Deception charges withdrawn

Charges of obtaining monies by deception were withdrawn from the jury on Monday in the trial of Richard Martin Hanna.

The former police community officer in North Side still faces alternate charges of theft.

He is accused of stealing sums of money that were the property of North side Primary School. Witnesses have said they gave money to PC Hanna in 2006 when students were doing a walkathon to raise funds and, later, when the graduating class was raising money for a trip to Canada.

Crown Counsel Nicola Moore closed the case for the prosecution on Monday morning and legal arguments then took place in the absence of the jury.

Attorney Ailsa Williamson made the submissions on Hanna’s behalf.

When jurors returned in the afternoon, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie told them he had decided that certain counts must be withdrawn.

He explained that obtaining by deception requires that a person has the intention to dishonestly deceive at the time the money is received.

After hearing arguments, he concluded that the evidence did not support the allegation and jurors could not be sure.

He therefore directed them to return verdicts of not guilty to 16 counts of obtaining by deception. He also directed not guilty verdicts on two counts of theft.

The amounts of money in those two charges were specifically accounted for in PC Hanna’s report to the school principal after the Canada trip, the Chief Justice reminded jurors. He directed them to also return not guilty verdicts on these charges.

That left 14 charges of theft.

Dishonestly obtaining and theft were always alternate charges. For example, Hanna was originally charged with obtaining $1,100 from Burns Rutty by dishonestly representing that the monies were for the benefit of the school trip to Canada. With the not guilty verdict for obtaining, he is still charged with stealing $1,100 from the school.

Hanna began giving evidence on Monday.