By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEYS defending a man and woman accused of stealing $1.3 million from their then-employer did not mince their words yesterday when making closing addresses to the jury about the prosecution’s evidence and the bank’s investigation into the allegations against their clients.
Roger Gomez II argued that the prosecution had not produced sufficient evidence to convict his client Natasha Evans of five counts of stealing by reason of employment.
He also said Scotia Bank was using his client as a scapegoat for its own “slackness” in allowing $1.3 million to physically walk out without being able to prove who took it, how it got out of the bank and where it went.
Meanwhile, Romauld Ferreira said the prosecution had not proved that Tremell Taylor acted together with either Evans or Byron Roberts, who pleaded guilty.
He too claimed his client was being used as a scapegoat by the bank, which is “under pressure to resolve this matter”.
Prosecutor Ambrose Armbrister, in response to these submissions, said all of the evidence pointed to the two accused, whose signatures on certain documents link them to the stolen funds.
Evans, an assistant branch manager at the time, is charged together with Taylor, a former bank teller, with five counts of stealing by reason of employment, which they both deny.
It is first claimed that the two, being concerned together on April 11, 2008, stole $313, 400 which they had access to by reason of their employment.
It is further claimed that on April 25 of that year, they stole $32,000.
On May 8, 2008, they allegedly stole $235,000; and $310,000 on May 22.
It is lastly claimed that the pair stole $400,000 on June 3 of that year.
Taylor himself faced additional five charges of stealing by reason of employment, charged together with former loans officer Roberts.
It was claimed that on April 23, 2008 the two stole $6,000.
It is alleged they stole $3,000 on May 9, $3,000 on May 16 and $1,000 four days later, on May 20.
It is lastly claimed that they stole $500 on July 1 of that year.
Taylor denies these allegations as well.
However, his co-accused Roberts opted to plead guilty a week after the start of trial.
Last Friday, Justice Indra Charles told Jeffery Lloyd, the attorney for 40-year-old Roberts, that she did not want to sentence Roberts until the trial of the remaining two defendants. She remanded him until then.
In yesterday’s proceedings, judge made a ruling on the closed discussions that took place between attorneys Mr Gomez II and Mr Ferreira and prosecutors Ambrose Armbrister, Kevin Farrington, and Gordon Soles in the presence of Justice Charles.
Following further discussions yesterday, the nine member jury was asked to return to the courtroom for the continuation of the trial.
Justice Charles addressed both Evans and Taylor after asking their attorneys if they had spoken with their clients.
“You have heard the evidence against you. It’s time for you to make your defence” the judge said, before explaining their two options.
The judge said that they could remain silent and call witnesses in their defence, or take the witness stand and be subject to cross-examination, along with any witness they brought.
“I will remain silent and wish not to call any witnesses,” Evans said.
“Likewise milady,” Taylor said immediately afterwards.
Mr Gomez II spoke first on behalf of his client.
He said the prosecution sought to prove his client was behind the theft listed in the five counts through witness Elaine Cleare, who investigated the disappearance of $1.3 million from the Nicholl’s Town branch in 2008.
“It is my submission that the investigation was not a full investigation and that it was not fruitful at all,” the attorney said.
He referred to Ms Cleare’s evidence about treasury cards “purportedly” bearing the signature of his client and her co-accused, Tremell Taylor.
He said reliance could not be placed on the signatures because a Crown witness, an armoured car service worker, testified that “the form was filled out by two females”.
He said that based on this, it was impossible that Taylor signed the receipt and it would mean that “Ms Cleare’s ID is not a good one or correct at all.”
“If this ID is called into question, I submit all other ID on signatures be called into question,” he added.
He said the signatures were not enough to prove that his client stole the funds.
“Cleare conceded that these funds did not go into any accounts and had to be physically taken out. She could not say who took it out, when it was taken out, how it was taken out or where the funds were,” he said.
He added that despite claims, the crown never produced any camera footage to corroborate their allegations.
He also noted the evidence of the branch manager, who said that no reports came to him from any employee about Evans being seen moving money out of the bank.
He also noted that the prosecution, based on the evidence of a technical support officer, could have simply printed evidence of the alleged thefts if it existed.
“One would think they could go to the branch server. It’s quite simple really,” he said.
He further said the investigation was flawed because “Ms Cleare never even spoke with Natasha Evans”.
“How could you have an investigation and don’t speak to two suspects?” he asked.
Mr Ferreira said the prosecution had not produced any evidence that his client had worked together with either Evans or Roberts in committing the alleged crimes.
“Cleare told you that Roberts and Evans were his bosses,” the attorney said, adding that “he’s only the teller”.
He said the Crown produced exhibits that showed transactions where Taylor acted on the instructions of his superior, who had authority to make such instructions and allow the transactions to proceed.
“In that regards, they’re scapegoating him,” Mr Ferreira said.
He further said that there is no evidence that his client received any of the stolen funds.
“My client is a victim of his own boss’ greed,” he said.
“Nobody saw Tremell Taylor move a thing out of this bank,” he said, adding that nothing was found at his address in Andros.
The prosecutor Mr Armbrister made his closing address in the afternoon session of trial, submitting that the evidence pointed to Natasha Evans and Tremell Taylor.
He said the bank has a policy whereby any time there is more than $400,000 in the bank’s treasury, the excess had to be sent to the Cash Processing Unit.
He said evidence revealed that Evans sent notice to the CPU of how much money they should expect to receive, but the money that CPU actually received did not reflect what was noted ahead of time.
Mr Armbrister said the armoured car drivers did not take the money, because they only pick up pre-packaged and sealed items.
He said the signatures of Evans and Taylor were on the treasury card forms and they were custodians of the cash on those days in question as they were the only ones present when the monies were packaged.
Regarding the allegation of Taylor and Roberts being concerned together, he said the jury heard evidence from bank officials that no employee had to obey instructions from any superior if those instructions went contrary to the bank’s policies.
He said the Crown produced more than enough evidence for the jury to come to a guilty verdict on all counts.