Jury deliberates on charges against ex-NHDT chair

| 18/04/2024
Geoffry Ebanks (from social media)

(CNS): After some four hours of deliberation, a jury of six women and one man was sent home Wednesday evening on strict instructions not to speak to each other outside of the jury room or to anyone about the case against Geoffry William Ebanks and to return Thursday morning to continue deliberating.

As the day drew to a close, the jury sent a message that they would need more time to reach a verdict following the trial of the former NHDT board chair, who is charged with corruption.

Ebanks (47) is accused of one count of breach of trust and one of conflict of interest in breach of the Anti-Corruption Act in relation to the misuse of soil, green waste and other materials cleared from the North Side NHDT site that he re-directed to his own land.

Justice Cheryll Richards completed her summing up and directions at around 12:30pm on Thursday following a two-week trial. She recapped the evidence for the jury, explained the issues relating to the law and provided them with a guide on the steps they need to take and the questions they need to ask themselves in order to arrive at a verdict.

She pointed out that the jury must “determine where the truth lies” after hearing all of the evidence presented by the crown, as well as evidence from Ebanks, who has said he did nothing wrong and is not guilty of the charges against him.

The prosecution has said that Ebanks used his position to deliberately redirect as much as 100 truckloads of material, journeys paid for by the Housing Trust, to his own and his family’s land when it should have gone to Beacon Farms, a rehabilitation agricultural facility that provides meaningful work to addicts in recovery. Instead, the material earmarked for the farm to be composted or used as fill was spread across Ebanks’ own land and that of his father. Ebanks failed to tell the board at any meeting what he was doing.

However, Ebanks has claimed that he told the NHDT director and therefore did not think he needed to inform the board. He also said he was taking the material to help the country by keeping the project on track because, after just a few loads, the 65-acre farm was full. This turned out not to be the case, but Ebanks stated throughout the trial that he had done nothing wrong and was just trying to help.

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