Defence questions reliability of SIM card at $400-m fraud trial

Defence questions reliability of SIM card at $400-m fraud trial

Thursday, September 26, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Both the prosecution and defence presented arguments for and against the admission of a SIM card into evidence during yesterday's hearing for the trial of eight defendants in connection with alleged fraud amounting to $400 million at the Manchester Municipal Corporation.

The defence has submitted that the cutting of the SIM card used in a Samsung phone removed parts of its unique identification numbers and could affect its reliability as admissible evidence.

Parish Judge Ann Marie Grainger, who is hearing evidence in the trial, directed the prosecution to have the witness produce additional evidence that will serve to support the authenticity of the SIM card as evidence on which the court can rely.

Eight defendants are before the court on charges of forgery, conspiracy to defraud, obtaining money by false pretences and facilitation of the retention of criminal property, in connection with allegations of a $400-million fraud uncovered at the municipality in 2016.

Those answering the charges are former Manchester Municipal Corporation employees Sanja Elliott, deputy superintendent of road & works; director of finance David Harris; works overseer Kindale Roberts; Elliott's wife Tasha Gaye; his parents, Edwardo and Myrtle Elliott; his employee Dwayne Sibblies; and bank employee Radcliffe McLean.

Expert witness Andrew Anderson, a former police constable who worked at the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency as a computer forensic examiner, told the court that the Samsung mobile phone containing the SIM card before the court was among digital devices seized at the residence of one of the accused, David Harris, former director of finance at the municipality, during a police operation in June 2016.

The witness told the court that a conversation between Harris and co-accused Sanja Elliott was extracted from the SIM card, utilising an internationally accredited software developed by an Israeli company known as Cellebrite.

The trial will resume today at the Porus Magistrate's Court, where the witness is expected to produce further supporting evidence authenticating the reliability of the SIM card as admissible evidence.

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