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Lawyer details dealings with alleged fraudsters

Another Berkeley Institute teacher faced former pupils and alleged fraudsters Kyril Burrows and Delcina Bean-Burrows when testifying for the prosecution in their Supreme Court trial.

The couple previously listened from the dock when Government Permanent Secretary Robert Horton testified in February.

Mr Horton, who was Deputy Head Teacher when they attended Berkeley, told the jury that Buildings Manager Mr Burrows quit the Works and Engineering Ministry amid concerns over his irregular purchase of a 58-inch plasma screen television.

The couple are jointly accused of defrauding Government of more than $553,000, with Mr Burrows, 48, alleged to have used some of that money to buy TV sets for their personal use.

Mr Horton went on to a career in Government, including a stint as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Works and Engineering, after his time at Berkeley.

Yesterday it was the turn of another teacher from the same school to give evidence in the case against her former pupils.

Sonia Grant spoke of a shop renovation project that 49-year-old Mrs Bean-Burrows took on in 2006, which ended up costing more than five times the original estimate.

Ms Grant explained that the couple graduated from Berkeley in 1980; the same year she left to pursue a career in law. She now practises as a lawyer specialising in estates, property and planning law.

She oversees the estate of former Progressive Labour Party Member of Parliament Jimmy Williams which has one surviving executor. Part of the estate includes a commercial building in Bridge Street, St George’s. Mr Williams died in 1998 as a sitting MP.

Ms Grant said the building was empty when Mrs Bean-Burrows contacted her in April or May 2006 to inquire about renting it.

She showed the jury a letter Mrs Bean-Burrows wrote her proposing a retail store called Triangle Toner Gifts and Rare Finds.

The letter said the store would sell Bermuda-themed products, honey, books, greeting cards and speciality bibles.

Mrs Bean-Burrows wanted to refurbish it and enter a two-year lease, estimating the cost of the renovations would be $9,000 to $10,000.

Ms Grant said Mrs Bean-Burrows began fixing up the store in early June 2000.

It was agreed that the cost of the repairs would be offset by the rent, which was set at $425 per month, with the details “to be sorted out down the road”.

She explained that the surviving executor of the estate saw it as his responsibility to get the store fixed up, but Mrs Bean-Burrows was to organise the work. The estimated cost of the repairs was acceptable to the surviving executor.

Mrs Bean Burrows made her first rent payment at the end of July 2006 and paid for September and October, but then made no further rent payments.

Ms Grant explained her own life was “in turmoil” at that time as there had been a fire at her law practice.

She said she did not give Mrs Bean-Burrow any instructions regarding the repairs needed and had no knowledge of their cost.

The lawyer went on to explain that in June 2007, having heard no more after the rent payments stopped, her law firm got a registered letter from Mrs Bean-Burrows.

It enclosed what she described as a detailed account of expenses incurred in renovating the store, which came to $52,692.32.

According to the letter, some of the money went on designs and project management by Human Nature, a company the jury has heard was associated with Mrs Bean-Burrows. Other expenses were listed as carpentry, flooring and electrical work.

Prosecutor Susan Mulligan inquired of Ms Grant: “Did you have any conversation with Mrs Bean-Burrows about a cost overrun to the amount we are seeing on these documents?”

Ms Grant replied: “I had no conversation with Mrs Bean-Burrows about cost overruns.”

The prosecutor then inquired: “Did you take any steps to pay Mrs Bean-Burrows or her company $52,692.32?”

Ms Grant replied: “None whatsoever.”

She said she had no recollection of any further contact with Mrs Bean-Burrows after she stopped paying the rent.

She later received another letter from Mrs Bean-Burrows saying that damage and losses totalling $5,400 had been suffered by the store in a November 2006 storm, meaning it had to be repaired again.

“We are terminating the rental agreement as of June 11 2007,” wrote Mrs Bean-Burrows.

Mrs Grant said she never received any invoices or receipts relating to repair work carried out at the store, which she would have needed in order to make payments.

She noted that when she was renovating her own law firm after the fire, “every nail, every bucket of paint” was detailed in that way.

Mr Burrows and Mrs Bean-Burrows deny 35 charges spanning the years 2005-2009 and alleging crimes of cheating, obtaining money transfers by deception, obtaining property by deception, money laundering and false accounting. The case continues.

Delcina Bean-Burrows and her husband Kyril Burrows are on trial accused of a half-million-dollar Government fraud.

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Published April 10, 2012 at 10:01 am (Updated April 10, 2012 at 10:01 am)

Lawyer details dealings with alleged fraudsters

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