Sunday, December 17, 2017

$350,000 bail for WPC on 100 charges


ACCUSED: WPC Elizabeth Hope

Mark Fraser

A PORT OF SPAIN magistrate spent over an hour yesterday morning reading the 100 charges levelled against a woman police constable for a series of fraud related matters that stemmed from 2009 to this year.

The amount she allegedly defrauded from the Police Service was almost $400,000.

WPC Elizabeth Hope, 40, of Oleander Drive, Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas, was granted $350,000 bail to cover all the charges against her and she is scheduled to re-appear in court on Friday.

Appearing before Magistrate Christine Charles, WPC Hope was not called upon to plead as the charges had been laid indictably.

According to the 100 charges that had been read out, Hope, with the assistance of another woman, Cherisse Austin, who is also before the court, allegedly tendered false bills and receipts of medical services done with an official stamp from a doctor.

Hope also billed the Police Service for medication she allegedly received while she was supposedly undergoing treatment for cancer.

According to the charges, Hope reportedly told the police’s Finance Branch that she was ill with cancer and forwarded to them a number of receipts for treatment she allegedly received as well as medication, all purported to have been signed off by a doctor named in the charge.

It was alleged that she utilised his official doctor’s stamp in her bid to make her claims.

The matter began at approximately 10.15 a.m. but by 11.15 a.m. Magistrate Charles had completed reading the charges.

Court prosecutor, Insp Joseph Darcauil, immediately objected to bail citing that Hope was a flight risk. He further explained that even if her passport was taken away from her nothing was stopping her from going to any police station, reporting her passport stolen and then getting a new one from the Immigration Division.

He said the police did not often consult with the Immigration Division hence his fear that Hope would be able to obtain another one almost immediately.

Hope’s defence attorney, Keith Scotland, said the objection was a weak one.

He also submitted that when his client found out about the investigation against her she was abroad on 21 days sick leave but immediately came back to Trinidad following which she surrendered herself to the police. He said that upon her arrival a warrant had not yet been issued for her arrest.

“She has no previous or pending and she is no flight risk,” said Attorney Scotland.

He also said that she had two sons ages 21 and 15 and had been in the Police Service for the last ten years.

In the end, Magistrate Charles agreed with Scotland’s submission ordering the accused to surrender her passport and report to the Fraud Squad’s office every Wednesday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The magistrate also told the police prosecutor to immediately inform the Immigration Division (yesterday) about the surrender of Hope’s passport.

The matter was then adjourned to May 2.