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UPDATE: Appeals court orders that convicted fraudster lawyer serve prison term

Published:Friday | May 9, 2014 | 11:24 AM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The Court of Appeal today dismissed the appeal of convicted fraudster and attorney-at-law, Oswald James and ordered that he serve his prison sentence.

James was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in 2012 for defrauding a client of US$237,500 which was for the deposit on a property known as Villa Maria at 33 Seymour in Kingston.

President of the Court of Appeal Justice Seymour Panton and justices Dennis Morrison and Carol Lawrence Beswick heard the appeal.

They agreed that the Resident Magistrate Lorna Shelly-Williams who tried the case had sufficient evidence to arrive at her decision.

The lawyer who was on bail was this morning taken into custody to start serving his sentence.

James was charged on August 14, 2009 following allegations that he had defrauded Canadian businessman Carlton Lewis of more than 20 million dollars in the sale of a property called Villa Maria at 33 Seymour in Kingston.

Lewis, made a report to the Fraud Squad in June 2009 after the attorney failed to refund the money he allegedly gave him in 2008.

James had strongly denied the allegations.

He testified that he invested the money, as directed by Lewis, and that no fraud was involved.

However, the judges said the magistrate had sufficient evidence that James had received the money from his client for a particular purpose.

They said there was evidence that the money was not used for that purpose.

The judges argued that there is a conflict between the lawyer and his client regarding what happened to the money.

James had said the money was used to help to purchase the Queen Hill property but his client has denied this.

The Appeals Court said the magistrate had evidence that Lewis had requested the return of his money and even had a meeting with a government minister to act as mediator in the situation.

And the court said the prosecution produced evidence that James entered into a written agreement to buy the property seven months before he received money.

However, according to the court, the magistrate was obligated to note that although James said he had made the purchase, he was unable to present documentary evidence to support his claim linking Lewis to the property transaction.

The judges said the magistrate was correct in finding that the lawyer used the money for his own benefit or for that of another person.

Prosecutors Lisa Palmer Hamilton and Leighton Morris represented the Crown.

James was represented by Brian Barnes.


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