The prosecution’s principal witness against Shane Gibson remained steadfast under cross-examination yesterday, maintaining that he paid bribes to the former government official.
Businessman Jonathan Ash took the stand for the fourth day at the former Cabinet minister’s bribery trial in a room packed with Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporters who jeered him as he entered the courtroom.
Ash appeared unfazed by the abuse and refused to back down from previous claims that he gave Gibson $280,000 from January 2017 to March 2017 as an inducement to expedite his payment for work done for the PLP government following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
In his second day of cross-examination, defense lawyer Keith Knight, QC, showed Ash a photo of a bundle of damaged shingles that he had sent to Gibson via WhatsApp on February 3, 2017.
Ash had previously testified that Gibson used “shingles” as a code name for cash.
Knight, however, failed to get Ash to concede that the word was used in its literal sense.
Knight had Ash listen to a voice note to Gibson where he said, “I dropped the shingles off.”
In explanation, Ash said that he was referring to money that he had given to government official Deborah Bastian to pass on to Gibson.
Knight asked, “Where did you drop the bundle of shingles?”
Ash replied, “I never dropped off no bundle of shingles.”
Knight asked, “But you did send a photo of shingles?”
Ash replied, “Yes. It was a hurricane. I was responsible for building repairs or fixing any roof. I was responsible for removing debris, there were shingles on the ground.”
Knight asked, “Did you deliver any shingles, as we know shingles to be, to any location?”
Ash said, “No sir.”
Knight said, “I’m suggesting that you’re lying when you say Mr. Gibson used the word ‘shingles’ in reference to money.”
Ash retorted, “Were you there?”
Knight continued, “When Mr. Gibson asked you, ‘Any shingles today?’ that had nothing to do with money.”
Ash replied, “Yes, it had a lot to do with money because I paid him personally.”
Knight addressed the close relationship that Ash and Gibson appeared to have.
He played voice notes with Ash referring to Gibson as “general, big man and boss”.
Knight said, “This was a sign of respect and commitment to a good man.”
Ash replied, “Commitment to a man.”
Knight asked, “Are you now saying that he’s not a good man?”
Ash replied, “At the time, I had respect for him.”
Knight showed messages between Gibson and Ash outside the period on the indictment.
He showed a photo of a campaign billboard of Gibson sent by Ash in April 2017.
Ash said, “I was putting up posters for him.”
Knight asked, “Am I correct you were involved in the erection of billboards as part of a campaign to have Mr. Gibson re-elected?”
Ash replied, “He asked me to do it.”
Knight continued, “And you did that favor, knowing it was in connection with him being re-elected as MP?”
Ash replied, “I didn’t think he was going to win but I did it.”
As he did on Thursday, Knight addressed a meeting held at the Central Detective Unit by investigating officer ASP Deborah Thompson with Ash, Bastian and their lawyers in September 2017.
Knight failed to get Ash to concede that his previous witness statement was altered as a result of this meeting.
When asked the purpose of the meeting, Ash said, “I can’t answer that. I don’t know what was going on in [Thompson’s] mind.”
The case continues on Monday.