Magistrate denies request to dismiss Smith’s case
A magistrate on Wednesday rejected as “premature” calls for her to dismiss the extortion and bribery case against former Public Hospitals Authority Chairman Frank Smith.
Smith is on trial before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt on charges that he demanded and received monthly payments of $5,000 from Magic Touch Cleaning Company owner Barbara Hanna from April 1, 2016 to April 2017, after he helped her land a $516,000 annual contract to clean the Critical Care Block of Princess Margaret Hospital.
Queen’s Counsel Keith Knight, the lead defense lawyer, alleged prosecutorial misconduct, as the Crown produced a supplemental statement from the investigator, Superintendent Uel Johnson, on Monday.
In the statement dated February 26, which is based on an interview with Hanna, she alleged that the payments made to Smith were included in her monthly bank withdrawals.
Knight complained that the Commonwealth Bank receipts “were not part of disclosure.” Based on this “prosecutorial misconduct”, Knight asked the magistrate to “dismiss this case.”
In response, lead lawyer Edward Jenkins, QC, said, “The material included [in disclosure] was then available to the Crown, was what was provided.”
Jenkins said, “A no case submission has to be based on evidence before the court. If he is alleging that Mr. Smith could not have a fair trial, as I understand the jurisdiction of the court here, this is a matter to be determined by the Supreme Court.”
“The appropriate course for him is to put an application to the Supreme Court for the matter to be stayed.”
Ferguson-Pratt said that it was “trite law” that a defendant must know the case against him. She asked why the additional evidence was just being produced six months later.
Jenkins replied, “I asked questions that were answered.”
Knight continued pressing the issue, claiming that Johnson had behaved inappropriately.
He said, “There is an irresistible conclusion that aspects of [Hanna’s statement] were omitted. This goes to how the investigating officer has conducted himself.”
However, Ferguson-Pratt said it was “premature” for her to determine if there was any wrongdoing on the part of the investigator, until he had been given an opportunity to explain during his evidence.
Once again, lamenting the delay in the case, Ferguson-Pratt said, “This is a matter of national significance. It must be adjudicated. I must reach a verdict one way or the other.”
The matter is now set to continue from May 14 through 18.