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Judge keeps accused on track as he cross-examines witness

A former Works and Engineering manager accused of using Government money to get his private home renovated faced questions from a judge about whether suggestions he put to Crown witnesses were relevant.

Kyril Burrows is defending himself in the case. He alleges prosecution witness John White lied about various documents at the centre of the case.

However, Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons interrupted his questions to the witness on several occasions yesterday, asking him what the purpose of them was.

Construction firm boss Mr White first took the stand for the prosecution on Friday March 9, telling the jury he was hired in 2005 or 2006 by Mr Burrows to build his private home in Turkey Hill, St George's.

Mr White testified that Mr Burrows told him the residence, which had a swimming pool and underground car park, was a home office for Works and Engineering.

According to Mr White, Mr Burrows, the buildings manager at Works and Engineering, instructed him to keep all his invoices under $3,000. Mr White said he sent these invoices to the Ministry of Works and Engineering, and was paid for his work.

In her opening speech on February 22, prosecutor Susan Mulligan suggested Mr White was asked to keep his invoices below that amount so it was within the boundaries of what Mr Burrows was authorised to spend on Government projects.

She alleged that Mr Burrows provided incorrect information on the payment certificates to deceive the Accountant General's Department into thinking the cash was going toward Government projects.

Mr Burrows has been in the process of cross-examining Mr White since late last week. He suggested to him yesterday: “The invoices you submitted to Works and Engineering were for Works and Engineering projects, and not Turkey Hill.”

Mr White denied that.

Later in the course of his cross-examination, Mr Burrows tried to question Mr White about two sets of documents. The first were work sheets which Mr White said he produced in relation to Turkey Hill.

At one point, Mr Burrows put them in front of the witness and suggested: “The documents you had been using as day work sheets were created by you and were not Works and Engineering.”

The judge pointed out that Mr White never did say the work sheets were created by Works and Engineering.

Next, Mr Burrows presented Mr White with a letter from TCD relating to a truck permit acquired by Mr White.

The judge inquired: “What's the purpose of putting this?” She then pointed out that he could not get the witness to “prove” the truth of a document that he had not created.

“That is not his document. Those words on that (document) were written by somebody else,” said the judge.

Mr Burrows dropped that topic but went on to question Mr White about the criteria for getting a truck permit from TCD, despite the witness having said he did not know what the criteria were. Again, his questions were cut off by the judge after she questioned their relevance.

Mr Burrows then asked Mr White about a contract he said Mr Burrows got him to sign in relation to Turkey Hill. Mr White agreed he made no mention of this contract when questioned by the police in relation to the case. He has previously told the jury he was arrested himself and accused of fraud during the investigation.

“I was told to speak the truth or I will get in trouble,” he explained last week.

Referring to the alleged contract, Mr Burrows asked yesterday: “Didn't you make up this document after you received indemnity (from prosecution) from the Crown?”

Mr White replied: “Me, make up a document? Oh no. This document is old. See this staple here? It's gone brown it's so old.”

Several jury members descended into fits of laughter at that answer. The document and allegedly rusty staple in question were then handed to the jurors for them to look at.

Later yesterday, Accountant General Joyce Hayward took the stand for the prosecution. In answer to questions from prosecutor Kirsty-Ann Kiellor she described the Financial Instructions rules binding all Government employees who handle public money.

Ms Hayward said those rules would apply to the Buildings Manager within Works and Engineering.

Mr Burrows, 48, and his wife Delcina Bean Burrows, 49, are accused of defrauding Government of more than $553,000 between them. In addition to the home renovation, Mr Burrows is 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 also accused of spending Government cash on televisions later discovered in the couple's home. They have pleaded not guilty to 35 charges spanning the period between January 2005 and July 2008, encompassing allegations of cheating, obtaining money transfers by deception, obtaining property by deception, money laundering and false accounting.

The case continues.

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Published March 21, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated March 21, 2012 at 9:43 am)

Judge keeps accused on track as he cross-examines witness

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