Officer received money for school

The trial of former police community officer Richard Hanna continued last week with witnesses who said they gave him money for the benefit of North Side Primary School – either to support a walkathon on 11 March 2006 or a students’ trip to Canada in June 2006.

Hanna has pleaded not guilty to obtaining monies by deception and, alternatively, theft of the monies.

On Wednesday, Mr. Roy Johnson told the court he runs a property management company called J and J Enterprises. He first met PC Hanna in early 2006.

He said the officer spoke to him about having a function to bring North Side residents together. In March 2006, PC Hanna approached him about a donation in support of North Side Primary School.

Mr. Johnson said he wrote a cheque for CI$1,101 dated 7 March and payable to Richard Hanna. The cheque cleared on 10 March. He explained that the money came from various customers of his.

Cross-examined by Defence Attorney Ailsa Williamson, Mr. Johnson agreed that the cheque did say it was for the primary school walkathon.

Mr. Johnson agreed PC Hanna had been helpful with some of the issues Mr. Johnson’s clients had.

Ms Ambuyah Ebanks, who was the reigning Miss Cayman in February 2006, told the court that PC Hanna said it would be nice if she came to the walkathon. She said of course, and went to the walkathon and gave prizes afterwards. She got a sponsorship form, but was too busy to get any sponsors, so she threw it away.

After being shown her statement, she agreed that she probably did get the form from PC Hanna.

Ms Evelyn Wattley told the court she came to know about the students’ trip from the North Side newsletter. The students wanted to work to raise money and she and her sister decided to contribute US$1,500 and teach the children about sanding and painting.

Her contact was with PC Hanna. She asked where she should send the money and he told her the Police Credit Union in Canada.

Crown Counsel Nicola Moore, who is conducting the case for the prosecution, read several statements from witnesses.

Mr. Burnley Foster’s statement said that he is co-owner of Foster Realty. He said PC Hanna came to his office and asked for a donation for the school and explained that many books had been destroyed during Hurricane Ivan (in September 2004).

Mr. Foster instructed his assistant to write a cheque for $500. He asked whose name the cheque should be written to. PC Hanna said his, because the North Side school account had not been opened yet.

In another read statement, Robert Gai Jr. said PC Hanna told him he was organising a walkathon to benefit the school. On 24 February, Hanna e-mailed him with instructions for wiring money. The e-mail said ‘This is my North Side account’ and all the funds would be given to the PTA.

Mr. Gai said he sent a wire transfer on behalf of Heather Murren for US$1,000.

The statement of Dale Ann Howe described PC Hanna as a young officer who raised the standard of policing. On 25 April 2006 she wrote a cheque for CI$1,000 made payable to Richard Hanna and it said for the North Side Primary School.

Ms Wendy Ann George, administrator for the IAMCO charitable organisation, provided a statement. She said IAMCO made a donation to match funds children raised for their walkathon.

Then IAMCO received a letter regarding the students’ trip. The request for assistance was refused but PC Hanna came and pleaded. A donation was then agreed on the basis that children would give community service under his supervision. The cheque was made payable to the North Side PTA.

Mr. Daniel Petts gave evidence in person. He said he gave PC Hanna a donation of $250 in cash. He did not sign any sponsorship form.

Questioned by Ms Williamson, Mr. Petts said he thought PC Hanna was great as a community officer. He agreed he had said he would provide a reference. He said PC Hanna strived for perfection, conversed with locals and tourists, was always polite and courteous.

Ms Moore asked if Mr. Petts would be surprised if he learned that the money he gave was never donated to the school. ‘Yes, very much so,’ the witness replied.

On Friday, Mr. Burns Rutty told the court that, around Easter 2006, PC Hanna told him he was arranging to take a group of children from the school to Toronto. PC Hanna said he had advanced approximately $11,000 on his credit card for these children to go. He did not mention specific expenses but, to the best of Mr. Rutty’s memory, PC Hanna asked for a donation to help support the trip

He said he wrote a cheque for $1,100 and left the payee blank. He intended the money for the school children to go to Canada.

Jurors saw the cheque displayed electronically. It was made out to Richard Hanna.

Staff members of the North Side Primary School have also given evidence.

School clerical officer Adira Kelly said she gave PC Hanna two sponsorship forms for the walkathon held in March 2006. She did not receive any money from him and she did not receive the forms back.

Teacher Erica Greenidge-Daniels said she was generally responsible for collecting funds and handing them over to the Home and School Association treasurer.

Mrs. Daniels said she kept records in a ledger. At no time did she receive cash or cheques directly or indirectly from PC Hanna for the children’s walkathon. At no time did she receive cash or cheques from him for the Year 6 trip to Toronto, which took place in June 2006.

Year 6 teacher Sumentra Bissu told the court the children going on the trip had to raise their own funds and the money was put into the Home and School Association bank account.

She said PC Hanna organised the trip and made all the contacts. She went on the trip. She thought it was wise for him to hold the money for incidental expenses; he paid and gave her the receipts. She said that, to her knowledge, a list of details of these expenses prepared after the trip was accurate.

She agreed that PC Hanna returned $1,177.56 to the school after the trip.

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