Mon | Jul 4, 2022

Lower court lashed by Appeal Court for ‘woefully deficient’ records in case of former NSWMA manager

Published:Friday | May 13, 2022 | 1:27 PM
The upshot was an unacceptable violation of the law which mandates how records in criminal cases are to be made and kept, the court said.

The record of proceedings from the trial of Mark Rodney, a former special projects manager of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), has been described by the Court of Appeal as woefully deficient and unacceptable.

The court was giving its reasons last week for quashing Rodney's convictions last year when it said it was constrained to make the observations.

The record of proceedings was sent from the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court about two years after Rodney filed his appeal.

“Among the other serious deficiencies in the record was the absence of parts of the notes of evidence including the no-case submission, reply and ruling, and some exhibits,” the court found.

The upshot was an unacceptable violation of the law which mandates how records in criminal cases are to be made and kept, the court said.

Rodney was convicted in 2016 in relation to the awarding of contracts totalling just over $12 million by the NSWMA to a company of which he was a shareholder.

He was convicted of breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act and breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act and was fined a total of $5.6 million.

Evidence was given at the trial that from the outset of his employment Rodney had disclosed his interest in the company and was never involved in any tender process involving the entity.

The court said it was not contested that as manager of parks and special projects Rodney would be performing a public function or was a public servant.

The court said it only had to consider on appeal whether in that capacity Rodney had any authority to award any contract to the company and whether he had in fact done so as alleged.

“On the evidence before us, Rodney had no such authority and was not involved in the approval process and did not award any contract to the company of which he was a shareholder,” the court found.

The appellate court said “the narrow question considered by us was whether at the close of the prosecution's case there was sufficient evidence adduced to make out a prima facie case of guilt against the appellant on the charges. Both the appellant and the Crown said there was insufficient evidence to sustain the convictions and we agreed.

“In our view, there was no evidence, at the end of the prosecution's case (or at all) to support the learned judge's finding that the appellant improperly used confidential information to procure the contracts,” the court ruled.

Rodney, who was represented by Walter Scott QC and Peter Champagnie QC, says he is now in the process of taking steps to recover the fine of $5.6 million from the government.

- Barbara Gayle

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