Policeman’s trial starts

Trial began this week for Richard Martin Hanna, the police constable who formerly served as community officer for the district of North Side.

Hanna has pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of obtaining monies by deception and 16 counts of stealing those monies from the North Side Primary School.

Crown Counsel Nicola Moore told the jury on Tuesday that these charges were what lawyers call dishonesty offences: either that he stole the money from the school or, in the alternative, that he got it by dishonestly obtaining it from people by deception.

In seven of the obtaining by deception charges, the allegation is that Hanna dishonestly represented that the monies were for the benefit of North Side Primary School. In the other nine obtaining charges, the allegation is that Hanna dishonestly represented that the monies were for the benefit of the school trip to Toronto, Canada in June 2006.

The 16 amounts alleged total CI$4,851 and US$3,850.

The Crown’s first witness was the school’s former deputy principal, Ms Tunisia Barnes. She explained how PC Hanna became involved in a walkathon the school held in March 2006 to replace library books and playground equipment destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

Ms Barnes also described the sponsorship form she created for the walkathon and the system by which she recorded the names of students who turned in money collected, the dates and the amounts.

The total collected from sponsors, companies and IAMCO was $44,854.46.

She said PC Hanna received a sponsorship form. She did not receive it back from him. She did not receive funds from him. To the best of her knowledge she was not aware of any money he collected.

Cross-examined by Defence Attorney Ailsa Williamson, Ms Barnes said the students raised almost $12,000 and IAMCO, which she described as Mrs. Olde’s company, gave $11,000.

She could not say how the money was spent because she left North Side Primary at the end of the 2005-06 school year, taking a post at another school.

Before the trial began Chief Justice Anthony Smellie told jurors they were obliged by their oath or affirmation to have regard for nothing but what they would see or hear in the courtroom.

He said it had come to his attention there were certain reports in the media several months ago, particularly newspapers. Jurors might or might not recall them, but they were to disabuse their minds of such reports and not have regard for anything they might have heard before coming to court or anything other than what they would hear in court.

The trial was scheduled to last 10 days.

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