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“I’M BEING USED,” SAYS COURT WITNESS

The woman who is the prosecution’s lead witness in the extortion case against a former Member of Parliament told the Court “I don’t want to be here, I feel like I’m being used.” Mrs. Barbara Hanna, owner of Magic Touch Cleaning Services gave this shocking testimony in the first day of the extortion trial of former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator and chairman of Public Hospital Authority (PHA) Frank Smith.

The trial   pened yesterday morning at Magistrates Court with Mrs Hanna the woman who he is alleged to have extorted money from.

Queens Counsel J.D Knight, who was flown in from Jamaica to represent Mr. Smith, asked Mrs. Hanna what was the reason behind her complaint to Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt stating she felt used.

“In your mind, who do you think is using you?” Mr. Knight asked the witness. Mrs. Hanna replied, “Well, as far as I am concerned, I can’t say who exactly, but I feel like I am being used.”

She continued, “I’m not the one who called the police, the police called me; I feel like I’m being taken advantage of.”

According to Mrs. Hanna, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Paul Rolle contacted her on several occasions to come in and give a statement against Mr. Smith. Mrs. Hanna said she tried to ignore the calls, but they kept coming in.

“After getting a few calls, I became frustrated and upset. I kept telling the police that I was busy, but the calls would not stop.

“I didn’t go for days, but after several attempts to get me, eventually I had to go in.

“I finally went in to give my statement to Assistant Commissioner Paul Rolle,” Mrs. Hanna told the court.

After obtaining her initial statement, Mrs. Hanna said she was then sent to another policeman, Superintendent Ellsworth Johnson to speak further on the matter.

Back in early 2016, Mrs. Hanna put forth her bid in the tender process and was awarded the contract to clean the critical care block at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Her contract was awarded in the amount of $43, 350.89; she was expected to commence work in March.

After receiving the cheque for said amount, Mrs. Hanna told the court she was then demanded by Mr. Smith that she had to pay him $5 thousand per month for the one year, totaling sixty thousand dollars; this was unbeknownst to her.

Referencing the monthly payment demands, Mrs Hanna said she asked Mr. Smith, “Do you know that paying this to you will affect my operation?” To which Mr. Smith replied, “Yes, I know.”

Mrs. Hanna continued, “Why didn’t you tell me that so I could’ve added that to my total cost for the bid?”

According to Mrs. Hanna, Mr. Smith replied by telling her there was nothing further he could do because the contract was already paid to her and at that time, Mrs. Hanna had already cashed the cheque.

Mrs. Hanna made her first five thousand dollars payment to Mr. Smith in April 2016 and continued said payments until April 2017.

In May of this year, Mrs. Hanna did not continue with the payments, indicating that she no longer could afford it, because she was behind in her NIB and VAT payments.

Mrs. Hanna told the court, she went to Mr. Smith and informed him she could not maintain the payments, to which Mrs. Hanna told the court, Mr. Smith offered her some paperwork, she thought would alleviate her problem, only to find out the paperwork was for her to apply for a loan.

She never filled out the paper work, revealing to the court that she was struggling financially at this point.

However, it was revealed in court that Mrs. Hanna requested additionally monies from Mr. Smith in the sum between twenty and twenty-five thousand dollars to assist her with materials for her cleaning services; after she cashed her contract cheque of $43, 350.89; to which apparently, Mr. Smith loaned her the additional money.

When asked by K.D Knight Queen’s Counsel (from Jamaica), if she recalls requesting a loan in June 2016, she admitted that she did. Her reason was because she needed more help with obtaining materials to aid her cleaning services.

Mr. Smith is also being represented by Attorney Damien Gomez. Q.C and Philip McKenzie.

Court is adjourned until today at 11:15 where she will be further cross examined by the defense.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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