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By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A SENIOR police officer said she would delete whatever parts of both a businessman’s and a woman’s statements about allegations of bribery against former Cabinet minister Shane Gibson that didn’t line up, a jury heard on Friday.
Lead defence attorney Keith Knight, QC, said Assistant Superintendent Deborah Thompson told Jonathan Ash and Deborah Bastian she would be “cutting out a lot” of whatever the pair didn’t agree on concerning allegations against the former parliamentarian.
In particular, Mr Knight said ASP Thompson indicated her intent to perform the various omissions because Mr Ash’s statement was “more detailed” than Ms Bastian’s.
That came after Mr Knight quoted the police woman as saying she wanted to “clear up” whatever differences existed at the time between the statements; Mr Ash had given two statements up to that point, while Ms Bastian had also given a statement, Mr Knight said.
But according to the Jamaican attorney, ASP Thompson arranged a meeting on September 25, 2017 at the Central Detective Unit (CDU), to “iron out” the “ambiguities” in their statements, particularly as it related to the amount of money Mr Ash said he gave Ms Bastian to give to Gibson, which was $200,000.
“Listen Mr Ash, you go through and give an overview or summary of what you told us transpired and if there’s anything you don’t agree with, with what he’s saying Ms Bastian, you let us know,” Mr Knight quoted ASP Thompson as saying. He was reading a printout of a recording of the meeting in question.
“Then I want you to explain to him what you (Ms Bastian) told us, and if there’s anything you don’t agree with, you let us know so we could clear this up,” Mr Knight further quoted ASP Thompson as saying.
Mr Knight also quoted ASP Thompson as saying: “We need to iron this out because ya’ll are giving two different accounts as to what transpired leading up to the meeting”.
According to the evidence, ASP Thompson was referring to the meeting Mr Ash, Ms Bastian, and Gibson had at a “pink building” on Nassau Street that ultimately caused Mr Ash to make payments to Ms Bastian, allegedly on Gibson’s behalf, and later directly to Gibson, in exchange for him using his government position to ensure Mr Ash would be paid the $1m plus he was owed for hurricane clean-up work.
Thus, Mr Knight suggested to Mr Ash that ASP Thompson arranged for that meeting with the express purpose of synchronizing his and Ms Bastian’s statements to remediate the “ambiguity” surrounding them.
However, Mr Ash said he could not recall whether ASP Thompson called the meeting for that purpose. He acknowledged that there were differences between his statements and that of Ms Bastian, evidenced by him saying: “I said some stuff concerning what happened. Deborah Bastian said some stuff.”
However, as he did during Thursday’s proceedings, Mr Ash said ASP Thompson called the meeting because “she wanted to know the truth” about what allegedly transpired.
Given Mr Ash’s insistence on not being able to recall whether ASP Thompson called the meeting to “clear up” the differences between his and Ms Bastian’s statements, or whether the officer actually intimated as such, Mr Knight questioned if Mr Ash was saying that ASP Thompson did not say those things, or whether he simply could not recall.
In response, Mr Ash said it was the latter, adding: “That was a long time (ago), sir”.
However, Mr Knight noted that Mr Ash, in giving previous testimony, could recall events that took place in January 2017, eight months prior to the meeting in question. To that, Mr Ash replied: “I can remember those times”.
Mr Ash also said he couldn’t recall various other portions of the meeting between himself, Ms Bastian, ASP Thompson, and their respective attorneys, particularly portions where he was quoted as saying certain things.
For example, Mr Ash said he could not recall saying “today is a good day, today is a great day. I met Ms Bastian through Mr Butler”. Previously, Mr Ash said he met Ms Bastian after meeting with Jack Thompson, then the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, about not being paid for Hurricane Matthew clean-up efforts.
Mr Ash also said he could not recall saying of Ms Bastian: “I have no problems with her. During the period of the contract I noticed I wasn’t being paid, so I said to Ms Bastian, I mean I go to her sometimes for advice. I ask her one or two questions. I don’t hide that.” However, he said he “probably” did say that Ms Bastian is a “nice lady” during the meeting in question.
Gibson is charged with 15 counts of bribery. It is alleged that between January 16 and 19, 2017, and being concerned with Bastian, he had solicited more than $200,000 from Mr Ash as an inducement to or a reward for him giving assistance or using his influence in approving outstanding payments owed to Mr Ash by the government.
The Crown further asserts that on various dates between January 19-31, 2017, Gibson, still concerned with Bastian, consequently accepted $100,000 worth of payments from Mr Ash. Then between January 30 and February 28 of that year, Gibson accepted several cash payments from Mr Ash totalling some $100,000.
Between February 10 and March 27, 2017, Gibson solicited and accepted a total of $80,000 each from Ash, but this time he was not concerned with Bastian, the Crown maintains. The Crown claims Mr Ash initially made the payments to Gibson through Bastian for the first set of payments totaling $200,000, but made them directly to Gibson for the remaining $80,000.
Gibson has denied the allegations.
The case continues.