Prosecution closes case in Gibson trial

The police officer who charged former Cabinet Minister Shane Gibson with bribery was back on the witness stand Tuesday at the request of the jurors.

The prosecution finally closed its case against Gibson — who is accused of abusing his position as hurricane czar for personal gain — after investigating officer ASP Debra Thompson concluded her testimony and copies of text messages were entered into evidence as defense exhibits.

Prosecutors allege that Gibson, who had ministerial responsibility for the recovery and reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, received $280,000 in bribes from contractor Jonathan Ash between January 2017 and March 2017.

Ash was owed upwards of $1 million by the government for work done as part of the cleanup following the storm when he met with Gibson and his then aide Deborah Bastian in an effort to get paid.

Ash has testified that the demand for $250,000 to approve the payments was made on Gibson’s behalf through Bastian.

The defense has charged that a joint meeting on September 25, 2017 called by Thompson between Ash and Bastian, whose status had changed from suspect to prospective prosecution witness, after Gibson was charged, was improper.

Thompson has conceded that she made “minor changes” to both witness statements during the meeting.

The jury wanted to know on which date Thompson added that Ash had been asked to forego payments.

Thompson replied that this change was made on September 25.

Based on the jury’s question, Gibson’s lawyer, K. D. Knight, QC, asked if the amount of money demanded was included in the statement.

Thompson denied that this took place.

With the consent of the prosecution, text messages that the defense referred to during Ash’s cross-examination were entered into evidence.

The messages were extracted from two phones owned by Ash during the investigation.

Justice Carolita Bethell excused the jury until Thursday as she will hear legal arguments in their absence today.

James Guthrie, QC, Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin, Terry Archer and Destiny McKinney appear for the Crown.

Damian Gomez, QC, Philip McKenzie and Owen Wells appear along with Knight for Gibson.

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Artesia Davis

Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.

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