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Defendant’s switch to cash payment meant something was ‘fishy’ witness tells court

A construction boss told a jury he thought “something fishy” was going on when alleged Government fraudster Kyril Burrows wanted to pay him in cash for work at his home.

Throughout this week, Mr Burrows’ Supreme Court trial has seen paperwork showing how John White’s company, J&M Construction, was allegedly paid with public money after doing work at Mr Burrows’ private home in Turkey Hill, St George’s.

The Government cheque stubs relating to the invoices Mr White submitted to Works and Engineering for the Turkey Hill project listed the payments as being made for work at various Government buildings including schools and post offices. Mr White has told the jury he never did work at those buildings.

He told the trial last Friday how he was hired by Works and Engineering boss Mr Burrows to build the three-storey property at Turkey Hill, which featured a swimming pool and a basement car park. Mr Burrows allegedly told Mr White it would be a Government office and arranged for Mr White’s company to be paid taxpayers’ dollars to renovate it.

The court has previously heard that the home in fact belonged to Mr Burrows and his wife Delcina Bean-Burrows. The prosecution alleges Mr Burrows stole up to $500,000 Government cash to pay for its luxurious upgrade.

Mr White, 36, said Mr Burrows instructed him to keep all his invoices under $3,000.

As an example, he said, instead of submitting a single invoice of $30,000, he was required to submit ten or 15 invoices of $2,800 or $2,900 each.

The prosecution has previously told the jury Mr Burrows was authorised to spend no more than $3,000 on Government projects.

On Thursday, Mr White told the jury Mr Burrows stopped paying him for work at Turkey Hill in June 2006 so he pulled his workmen off the job.

“I just stopped work,” he said, explaining he was owed approximately $70,000 by Mr Burrows.

He said he rang him when the payments stopped but got no answer. He said he considered court action over the money owed but then decided against it.

He explained he felt the legal action would have to be against Government, “because I’m working for the Government” and that that would be a long and expensive process.

Mr White said around a year later, he heard from Mr Burrows who said he would pay him up and asked him to recommence work at Turkey Hill. Mr White went back to the site but said Mr Burrows wanted the payments to be made in cash in future. Mr White told the jury that when he learned that, he again asked his men to stop work.

Explaining why, he said it was because it was a different payment method and he did not see any cheque coming for the money he was still owed.

Asked by prosecutor Kirsty-Ann Kiellor what he thought when the payment method was changed to cash, Mr White replied: “That means something is fishy.”

He said he did not go back to the site, and left construction equipment in the form of an old mixer and a couple of jacks there. According to Mr White, he was never paid the $70,000 owed.

Ms Kiellor concluded her examination of Mr White yesterday morning, and he was due to face cross-examination from Mr Burrows and his wife Delcina Bean-Burrows. The husband and wife, aged 48 and 49 respectively, are accused of defrauding Government of more than $553,000 between them.

They have pleaded not guilty to 35 charges between January 2005 and July 2008, encompassing allegations of cheating, obtaining money transfers by deception, obtaining property by deception, money laundering and false accounting.

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Published March 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm (Updated March 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm)

Defendant’s switch to cash payment meant something was ‘fishy’ witness tells court

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