New files threaten to prolong Manchester MC fraud trial
The presentation of new documents in the $400-million Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud case angered the defence as the trial continued in the Manchester Parish Court yesterday.
Attorney Norman Godfrey was adamant that the case could not continue with the submission of additional statements in the middle of the trial.
Godfrey, who is representing former Deputy Superintendent of Roads and Works Sanjay Elliott, his wife, Tasha-Gaye Goulbourne-Elliott, and his employer, Dwayne Sibbles, made his frustration known to the judge.
“This matter has been in the court since June of 2016 – three years ... . Am I obliged to accept these [statements] at this period in the trial?” he asked presiding judge Ann-Marie Grainger.
Added Godfrey: “As far as I can observe, there is confidence in the justice system ... . Dog is going to eat us if we cause people to lose hope in the justice system.”
The judge then advised the prosecution to ensure that they get all the relevant documents from their investigating officers ahead of time to ensure fairness.
“Crown has to be reasonable and fair in a case like this that is already big. New documents at this point makes it bigger ... . You will not always be in the DPP’s (director of public prosecutions) chambers. Put yourself in their (defence counsel’s) shoes,” Grainger told the prosecution.
She further explained that with some statements just coming in, it risks a recall of witnesses who had already taken the stand to answer to new information, triggering an extension of the trial, which is in its second of an anticipated four weeks with more than 50 witnesses remaining.
Attorney Danielle Archer – who is representing former acting secretary manager and director of finance at the corporation, David Harris – affirmed this, citing that having browsed the new documents, questions are now arising that should have been directed to former Mandeville Mayor Brenda Ramsay, who testified last week.
In their defence, the prosecution said they only got the case a year ago, not three year, as the defence hinted.
They also added that there were no new statements. However, the files have just been handed over by the investigating officers.
The Crown acceded that submitting documents this late was not ideal and informed the court that no other statements are anticipated.
The judge said come next week, the trial could be moved to the courthouse in Porus, following the success of an application that was made.
She did not state whether it was for the remainder of the trial or a temporary relocation.
The accounting clerk from the corporation, who has been on the stand since last week, is expected to complete the assessment of invoices and other documents which bear her signature and that of the accused.