By Latrishka Thomas
The High Court Judge who presided over the case against the former General Manager of the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board (ABTB), Harry Josiah, has admitted to making a mistake in ruling that the accused has no case to answer.
In 2015, Josiah was slapped with eight counts of corruption and three of fraud for allegedly performing his duties for the purpose of obtaining company vehicles and causing the same vehicles to be transferred to other people by virtue of a forged document.
A woman, Genevieve Phillip, who was alleged to have fraudulently acquired one of the cars, was also said to have aided the corruption and was also on trial alongside Josiah.
According to the allegations, in 2009 at Josiah’s request, Harney Motors loaned 12 vehicles to the United Progressive Party for the purpose of its election campaign.
Only half of the vehicles were returned to the car dealership and the six which were not are the subject of the indictment against Josiah.
After hearing from witnesses in the matter, Josiah’s lawyer Dane Hamilton QC presented a ‘no case’ submission where he argued that an essential element in the offence was not established during the trial – and that was that the vehicles were owned by the Transport Board.
The prosecution believe that the six vehicles were sold and/or transferred to the ABTB, thus becoming the property of the ABTB.
Further, the allegations are that Josiah, in the performance of his duties, obtained the property and transferred them to the persons named in the indictment using a forged instrument.
Justice Stanley John essentially agreed that the Crown failed to prove that the ABTB owned the vehicles and that documents were forged by the accused, Josiah.
He therefore upheld all 12 of the counts, freeing the duo in early March 2022.
However, in his written judgement sent out yesterday, Justice John admitted that the former Transport Board boss may in fact have a case to answer in relation to at least three counts.
“In light of the evidence relating to counts 1, 2 and 3, and upon further analysis of same, the court is now of the view that it fell into error in upholding the no case submission in respect of counts 1, 2 and 3,” he stated.
The three counts are in relation to one specific vehicle. Count one is corruption; Josiah is accused of performing his duties to obtain a Toyota Corolla valued at $23,900.
Count two, Josiah is alleged to have used a forged document to transfer the same vehicle to a relative; and then count three, he reportedly used another fake document to deliver that vehicle to another individual.
But even before receiving the written judgement, the prosecution had announced plans to appeal the case.
Josiah confirmed to Observer that he received the notice of appeal on Tuesday.
The case should proceed before the appellate court during its next hearing.