Cop corruption trial re-opens

| 25/02/2014

(CNS): A police officer accused of blackmailing a potential suspect in a stolen phone case returned to the dock Monday to face trial once again more than eight months after his first trial was adjourned as a result of legal problems and potential prejudice. Elvis Ebanks is accused of taking a bribe from a Filipino national in exchange for not arresting him in connection with the possible theft of a cell phone. As the case reopened, Ebanks once again heard his accuser, via an interpreter, tell the court and a jury that the police officer had asked him for over $500 not to pursue a case of theft against him.

Len Ferraris, who gave evidence against the officer, claimed he had found the cell phone on a bench when he was visiting the Auto-spa car wash in Red Bay, George Town. He put the red Blackberry phone in his pocket and then three days later, when he had cracked the pass code, he put his own SIM card into the handset. Once he did that and began using the phone the owner of the handset managed to trace it. Following a meeting at the Auto-Spa between the owner, the police officer on trial and Ferraris, who handed the phone back, the owner said he did not wish to take the case any further.

With the phone returned to its rightful owner, Ebanks was then tasked with taking Ferraris home. But the court heard that it was during this journey that he allegedly threatened the Filipino national with ten years in jail over the stolen phone and asked for money. Denying he had stolen the phone and insisting he had found it, Ferraris told the court he was scared.  With only a few dollars on him at the time, Ferraris, who believed he was looking at a decade behind bars, agreed to try and find the $500 that he says Ebanks wanted and told him he would have the cash by Wednesday.

Although Ferraris told the court that the police officer ordered him to remain quiet about the money, the man, who was working as a janitor at the time earning just CI$700 per month, told family members, who in turn contacted the police. The RCIPS then recorded phone conversations between Ferraris and Ebanks and organised to be at the meeting where the cash exchange eventually took place at Countryside Shopping Centre in Savannah.  Shortly after Ebanks was arrested and later charged with bribery and breach of public trust.
Ebanks denied the allegations, stating that the man had offered a legitimate loan.

Following the evidence in chief Ferraris was cross examined by Ebanks’ defence attorney ,Amelia Fosuhene from Stenning & Associates, who pressed Ferraris to admit he had stolen the phone in the first place and highlighted a number of inconsistencies with his testimony.
Struggling to cross examine through an interpreter, the attorney questioned Ferraris  about his status on the island and he admitted that although he had a work permit with the company he was working for as a janitor, he had also been working on the side at the auto-spa without a permit. 

The trial continues Tuesday in court one before a jury and visiting judge Justice Swift.

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