MMC Fraud Trial | Defence calls late submission of documents a waste of time
Unfair and prejudicial. That was how defence attorneys labelled the ongoing haggling over documents in the multimillion-dollar Manchester Municipal Corporation (MMC) fraud trial yesterday.
During the cross-examination of a deputy superintendent attached to the Major Organised Crime and Anti Corruption Agency (MOCA) yesterday, attorney Norman Godfrey stopped midway, stating that his line of questioning was now affected, having received a document he and his colleagues said they were being presented with for the first time.
“How can we have a fair trial in these circumstances? I am appalled. Clearly, my client has been prejudiced,” charged Godfrey, who is representing former deputy superintendent of roads and works at the corporation Sanja Elliott; his wife, Tasha-Gaye Goulbourne-Elliott; and his caretaker, Dwayne Sibbles.
The quibble over documents either submitted late or not at all has been a niggling issue since the trial got under way on June 3. In their defence, the prosecution explained that they only got the case a year ago.
Yesterday, the prosecution said that the non-disclosure of a document was an oversight.
Parish Judge Ann-Marie Grainger was left in a quandary as an early adjournment would mean a longer trial period, and failure to give the defence enough time to review new documents would be unfair.
She said that each document not properly disclosed could cause the trial to extend much longer as there was the possibility that the defence could recall several witnesses based on new information which had arisen.
miscarriage of justice
Attorney Delford Morgan, who is representing Elliott’s parents, Edwardo and Mrytle Elliott, urged the judge not to admit the new file.
“The non-disclosure, perpetual lateness, and irregularities lead to a miscarriage of justice. It behoves the court to turn away from these irregularities ... . The early adjournment yesterday and [possibly] today is tantamount to abuse,” he said, making reference to Monday when similar new disclosures resulted in an early adjournment to give the defence time to review them.
“It is a waste of precious judicial time, the time of the court, and the accused. I am requesting that the Crown disallow this document from having any part in this trial,” Morgan added.
Grainger said she could not grant such a request as the defence needed every document to help their clients.
She again cautioned prosecutors to make detailed checks in advance to ascertain whether documents were in the defence’s possession.
“I don’t know what is happening at the DPP’s (director of public prosecutions) Chambers ... You have to take the initiative. Call counsel to find out what documents they have and don’t have. My hands are tied. I can’t stop the trial,” she said.
Another cop attached to MOCA was yesterday recalled to the stand, but new documents presented made it hard for the defence to follow through with cross-examination.
The prosecution was again counselled following the revelation that they had redacted a document without formal approval from the court.
Grainger said she had sat on both sides of the table and had to be fair to all concerned.
The second half of yesterday’s proceedings saw the recall of a witness from the Integrity Commission, which prosecutors said was for the purpose of putting to the witness exhibits that had been previously tendered into evidence.