Sun | Nov 17, 2019

Police say subpoenaed former parish council director can’t be found

Published:Tuesday | October 15, 2019 | 12:23 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

Mandeville, Manchester:

A police officer attached to the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) told the court that his efforts up to yesterday to locate a former director of administration at the Manchester Parish Council (now the Manchester Municipal Corporation) have been unsuccessful.

As he testified in the multimillion-dollar fraud trial yesterday, the witness said a statement was taken from the former director in January 2017 and a subpoena served.

He said that in 2019, acting on some information he received, he went to a house in Barbary Hall, St Elizabeth, in search of the former director but failed to locate her.

The officer said he made calls to a number she had given him during the recording of the statement, but all he heard was a voicemail recording.

Additionally, he said emails and messages to her via social networking site Facebook have also gone unanswered.

The witness said he then made a request to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) for her travel history and received a printed statement.

The witness revealed that since May, he has visited the Barbary Hall address three times, the most recent being yesterday before he attended court.

The revelation triggered several objections as the defence counsel questioned how the investigation could still be in progress following the commencement of the trial.

Attorney Delford Morgan said the move for the police to visit the property yesterday morning begs the question whether the prosecution and witness were in dialogue. He moved on to accuse the Crown of prosecutorial misconduct.

The lead prosecutor charged that the defence was seeking to impugn her integrity and said he should not be allowed to continue to make those serious allegations and assertions without evidence.

JUDGE’S CONCERN

Presiding Judge Ann-Marie Grainger said her only concern was that the MOCA officer would have gone to the address yesterday morning, while the trial was ongoing, and that this was not information that would have been supplied to the defence ahead of time.

The prosecution responded, alluding to a guiding document which said that there were continuous efforts to locate a witness.

In continuing his testimony, the MOCA officer said that based on his research, the potential witness is outside of the jurisdiction.

He said that on a visit to the corporation, he was told that the former director was on leave, and following that, she would then proceed on study leave and then migrate.

He said he was also informed of her handing in a letter of resignation.

Attorney Norman Godfrey asked whether the MOCA officer had ascertained where the former director would be studying. He said no.

STATEMENT FIGHT

Meanwhile, efforts to admit a statement from David Harris, former secretary manager and director of finance at the corporation, before he was considered a suspect, were blocked over the circumstances surrounding it being taken.

It was revealed that it was a system statement and was taken solely on the basis that Harris speak to the responsibilities of the role and procedures of the corporation and not as a suspect. However, his house was raided and items seized before his statement was recorded.

Judge Grainger pointed out that a system statement could have been taken from anybody at the corporation who could speak to the operations.

Grainger said the fact that Harris was arrested a year after did not mean that he had not been under investigation. Further, she said, based on all that had been presented, it seemed that Harris had been treated as a suspect at the time the statement was recorded.

It was on that basis that she said she could not rule in favour of the prosecution and denied the admission.

A witness whose name appears on several cheques and invoices for work he reportedly did not do for the corporation was called to the stand late yesterday afternoon to begin his testimony.

He, along with the MOCA officer, is expected to return to the stand today as the matter continues in the Manchester Parish Court.

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