By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A WOMAN, before being convicted of an $80,000 fraud charge, claimed that “demon spirits” influenced her into using the name of known international missionaries to obtain more than $80,000 from a housewife.
Patricia Edgecombe, 41, of Cable Beach opted to change her plea to guilty after the husband of the duped wife gave evidence before Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis yesterday. When Magistrate Rolle-Davis asked: “Why’d you do it?” she replied: “Demon spirits.”
“Demon spirits?” the magistrate queried.
“Yes,” she replied.
In Edgecombe’s initial arraignment in November 2012, she faced seven charges of fraud by false pretences, all of which she denied.
It was claimed that on June 19 this year she, with intent to defraud, obtained $7,600 from Maxine Julien by means of false pretences.
It was further claimed that on the following day, June 20, she obtained $10,000 from Ms Julien under false pretences. On July 3, the complainant was defrauded of $11,000, and then $12,000 on July 12. On August 30, $9,000 was obtained from the complainant.
A week later, on September 7, $12,000 was obtained from the complainant under false pretences.
Finally Edgecombe was alleged to have obtained $20,600 from the complainant under false presences on September 11.
On the days in question, the complainant was contacted by a woman claiming to be Paul Morton, TD Jakes and others asking for monitory contributions to help people in need.
At the end of September, the complainant’s husband received a paper trail of recent withdrawals from their joint account and through inquiries from the complainant, the matter was investigated after being reported to police.
Edgecombe was granted $50,000 bail as she had no previous convictions or pending matters before the court. A trial date was set for the end of January 2013.
After a few adjournments, Edgecombe was sent to Sandllands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) to be evaluated to see if she was mentally fit to stand trial. She was not represented by counsel.
In yesterday’s proceedings, the magistrate noted that SRC said Edgecombe was fit to stand trial.
When asked how she was feeling, she said she felt “a little dizzy” but could go on. The matter had been stood down for 15 minutes.
Max Julien, the husband of Mrs Julien, testified that monies in the savings account he had set aside for his construction supplies business was nearly depleted.
When he spoke to his wife about this, she told him about what had occurred over the past few months.
Mr Julien said he quickly reported the matter to the police. An investigation followed. When given the opportunity to cross-examine Mr Julien, Edgecombe said she had no questions and had only wanted to say “sorry” to Mr Julien.
The magistrate explained to her what the purpose of a cross-examination was, as she was not represented by counsel.
Edgecombe turned to Mr Julien who was on the stand and said: “I just want to say I’m sorry, sir.”
Magistrate Rolle-Davis told her the statement was not a question, but would assume that based on her choice of words, she wanted to change her plea.
“Yes,” she replied.
After excusing Mr Julien from court, the magistrate reread the seven fraud charges to Edgecombe who pleaded guilty to all of them.
“Is there anything you wish to say to me before you receive punishment?” the magistrate asked.
“I just want to say I’m very sorry and ask that you have mercy on me,” she said.
“Why’d you do it?” the magistrate asked.
“Demon spirits,” she replied.
“Demon spirits?” the magistrate asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“How’d you do it?” the magistrate asked.
“I pretended to be somebody I’m not,” she answered.
“Very well. I accept your guilty plea and I convict you accordingly,” Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis said.
After confirming with the prosecution that Edgecombe had no previous convictions, he addressed the accused. He noted Sandiland’s report that she was fit and their recommendations that she receive person and group psychotherapy along with prescribed medication.
“In the circumstances, I’m going to have you assessed more in depth before I decide punishment for you,” he said.
He noted that a probation report will be done and presented to the court on May 9.
“You will be held at Fox Hill in the interim,” he added.