Govt official has ‘no recollection’ of approving TV sets relocation
The former manager of a civil servant accused of defrauding Government told a jury yesterday he had “no recollection” of permitting two TV sets at the centre of the case to be taken to the civil servant’s home.
Kyril Burrows, who worked as a buildings manager in the Works and Engineering Department, is accused along with his wife Delcina Bean-Burrows of stealing more than $553,000 of taxpayers’ dollars to fund their life of luxury.
Mr Burrows is accused of dishonestly submitting invoices so Government paid to rebuild the house he shared in St George’s with his wife. He’s further accused of directing Government funds to his wife’s company, Ren Tech, under the false premise it would carry out construction work at schools in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
He is alleged to have spent Government cash on a 26in television and 36in television later discovered at Tudor Farm, a Government property the couple rented in Southampton while their St George’s home was being renovated. Mr Burrows is also accused of using public funds to purchase a third television set, measuring 58in.
Television sets were the focus of questions put earlier in the trial to Robert Horton, former Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Engineering, by prosecutor Susan Mulligan and by Mr Burrows, who is representing himself.
On February 23, Mr Horton, the first witness for the prosecution, said Mr Burrows quit the Works and Engineering Ministry amid concerns over his irregular purchase of a 58-inch plasma screen television.
Mr Horton recalled his concern at the way Mr Burrows used Government purchase orders to obtain the television from M&M electronics store in 2008, and noted his swift exit from his job when his actions were questioned.
He said Mr Burrows told him the equipment was a large screen to be used in a boardroom at the Ministry’s headquarters at Prospect. According to the Crown, the 58-inch TV bought by Mr Burrows has never been recovered.
Mr Horton, who became Works Permanent Secretary in December 2007, recalled how television use caused concern when he visited the Prospect depot for the first time in January 2008 with new Minister Derrick Burgess. They had made it clear it was unacceptable to watch television during working hours, he said.
Last week, when he was cross-examining Mr Horton, Mr Burrows presented him with what he described as an e-mail exchange dating from February 6 2008, following the Minister and Permanent Secretary’s visit to the depot. The e-mails were printed from Mr Burrows’ Gmail account.
The e-mail presented to Mr Horton appeared to show David Brown, chief surveyor and Mr Burrows’ boss, asking Mr Horton to confirm his verbal approval that three TVs from the depot should be relocated to Tudor Farm, where the Burrows’ were living, following a directive from the Minister.
Mr Horton’s reply was “approval confirmed” according to the e-mail printed from Mr Burrows’ Gmail account.
During those questions last week, Mr Horton told Mr Burrows he had no recollection of him giving a verbal agreement for the TVs to be moved to Tudor Farmhouse. He said he did not recall the e-mail in question but confirmed it appeared to be sent and received by him according to the printout presented to him by Mr Burrows.
Yesterday after a delay in the trial of one week due to legal arguments, Ms Mulligan asked Mr Horton if being presented with the e-mail by Mr Burrows refreshed his memory” about it. He replied: “I must had seen it but I have absolutely no recollection. Nothing at all.”
He later added: “It does appear to be an e-mail I sent but I have absolutely no recollection.”
Mr Horton told the jury he did remember the Minister directing that television sets be removed from the Prospect depot, but had no recollection of a direction that they be sent to Tudor Farm.
Asked by Ms Mulligan if he knew how strings of Gmail e-mails should look, Mr Horton said he did not. However, he agreed with the her that the subject line changed between the original e-mail and the reply in the printouts presented by Mr Burrows.
He also agreed with Ms Mulligan that in one e-mail there is a space in the subject line and on another there is not.
The trial was then adjourned once again due a legal issue that needed to be dealt with by the lawyers in the absence of the jury. Trial judge Charles Etta Simmons asked the jury to return tomorrow morning.
Mr and Mrs Burrows deny a total of 35 charges of cheating, obtaining money transfers by deception, obtaining property by deception, money laundering and false accounting and the case continues.
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