Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 8th 2014 Contents A14
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, February 8, 2014
The Court of Appeal is expected
to rule on May 15 whether a mag-
istrate was right to refuse to allow
the police to hold on to almost $2.2
million in cash found at the house
of four people charged with credit
The three judges reserved their
decision yesterday after lawyers rep-
resenting the magistrate, the Director
of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and
First Citizens, the financial institu-
tion which was allegedly defrauded,
all made a series of contrasting sub-
missions on the issue.
Referring to several cases in which
court exhibits had gone missing
while in police custody, Senior
Counsel Dana Seetahal, who is rep-
resenting Magistrate Marcia Murray,
said Murray was entitled to take
steps to preserve the exhibit in cir-
cumstances where the police ability
to do so was in question.
Justice Paula Mae-Weekes, who
headed the appeal panel, seemed to
agree, saying, "We all know that all
sorts of things, like cars, cocaine and
money, have disappeared while in
The DPP filed the appeal in June
last year after Murray ruled she was
not confident that the police could
"safely and prudently" look after
the money. She ordered the money
should be placed in an interest-bear-
ing escrow account at the Unit Trust
Corporation (UTC) until the case
In their appeal, the office of the
DPP contended Murray s decision
was wrong, as only the police were
allowed to take charge of evidence
in ongoing criminal proceedings.
While there was some disagree-
ment as to who had the authority
to handle the cash, both Seetahal
and the DPP s attorney Elaine
Greene agreed the bank could not
challenge the issue.
"It has no authority to make an
application for custody of the money.
There is nothing to show that it is
their money," Seetahal said.
Instead, Greene suggested that
any request by the banks, as the vir-
tual complainant in the case, should
have been made to prosecutors.
The bank s lawyer, Fyard Hosein,
SC, agreed with Seetahal that Mur-
ray had been entrusted with the
responsibility of preserving the
exhibit---the money---and was
allowed to take special steps to do
so in "exceptional" circumstances,
such as this case, where a large sum
of money was involved.
However, he suggested the money
should have been kept in a vault at
the Central Bank as opposed to the
When Murray initially gave her
decision, the bank and the DPP
expressed reservations over its being
put back into circulation before it
was admitted as evidence and the
case was determined.
But Weekes said that issue might
be irrelevant as the money found
during the raid on the home of those
accused might be considered cir-
cumstantial evidence, as it was
unclear whether prosecutors could
prove a link between the cash and
the fraudulent transactions of which
the group is accused.
"It is not relevant as part of evi-
dence. You do not need it for the
case to be proven," Weekes said.
Custody of $2.2m cash
exhibit in question...
Cost to repair broken
main still unknown...
Minister of the Environment
and Water Resources Ganga
Singh says the cost of repairing
the ruptured water main in
Trincity is still unknown, and
will probably be released by next
Singh, who initially said the
estimate would be ready by yes-
terday, said the figure would be
worked out over the weekend and
sent to the Ministry of Works.
On Thursday, at the post-Cab-
inet news conference, Singh said
contractor Junior Sammy (Jusam-
co) committed a breach which
resulted in a ruptured 48-inch
steel main off the Churchill-Roo-
sevelt Highway, near Trincity
Mall, on Wednesday afternoon.
The incident happened while
the contractor was repairing and
widening a bridge as part of an
overall highway expansion proj-
Singh quoted a project engineer
as saying that "a specific zone
was identified for the contractor
to operate within, but this area
Jusamco, however, has sought
to blame the Water and Sewerage
Authority (WASA), saying the
authority had failed to place
markers on the job site.
In a brief telephone interview
yesterday, Singh said because it
was an emergency, as more than
400,000 people were affected,
WASA had had to start repairs
He said the overall repair cost
would be computed and then put
forward. He commended WASA
for repairing the main so quick-
"I want to congratulate the
WASA crew, they did it within
record time," he said.
In a statement yesterday,
WASA maintained that there were
visible markers on the site. The
release said there were several
valve and appurtenance chambers
with the Jusamco job site in the
"These clearly identifiable
chambers are used by WASA per-
sonnel to access air valves, operate
control valves and monitor pres-
sures and flows along its trans-
mission system. They are clear
indications of WASA s under-
ground pipeline infrastructure
which can be found throughout
the country and which are easily
recognisable by ordinary citizens,"
the statement said.
The release said other than the
many valve and appurtenance
chambers in the area, the Caroni
Water Treatment Flow Control
Station was located nearby.
WASA workers at the site of the ruptured 48-inch main pipe on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway widening
project in Trincity on Thursday. The costs for the repair work, which was completed Thursday night, is still
undetermined. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
The money was seized by the
Fraud Squad on April 7 last year
during a search at a house in
Millennium Park, Trincity. Four
people were arrested.
Hairdresser Summer Bristol,
32, of Trincity; Shawn Davis, 39, a
sound engineer of Eric Roach
Circular Road, La Horquetta; fete
promoter Lincoln Amery
Gopeechan, 30, of Fourth Street,
Montague Avenue, Trincity; and
electrician Leon Gomes, 38, of
Spring Village, Valsayn were
charged with 23 charges for
fraudulently obtaining close to $3
million from various branches of
First Citizens on April 6 and 7.
In addition to cash, police also
allegedly found several pieces of
equipment used for
manufacturing electronic cards,
credit-card readers and credit
The four accused were each
granted $750,000 bail. Shortly
after posting bail Bristol and
Davis fled the country and have
not been seen since.
Gomes and Gopeechan are
currently in remand.
The case is scheduled to be
heard next Friday.
Appeal Court to
rule on May 15
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