Jury discharged in fraud case

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In a dramatic twist, the Crown Court jury hearing the trial of former charity organisation director, Eddie Kerr, who faces 15 charges relating to fraud and forgery, has been discharged.

Eddie Kerr (60), from Ashfield Terrace, went on trial last week on 15 charges related to funding applications and the acceptance of funding for the organisation SEEDS, from March 2009 to February 2011, during the time Kerr was the director of the charity, which helped migrants to the city.Kerr denied the charges.

During yesterday, Tuesday’s hearing, the defence said they wished to call a witness, a chartered accountant, who had worked with SEEDS since 2008, claiming it was to address and explain discrepancies between two ledgers kept by the charity.

The defence said they did not realise the reliance the prosecution were placing on it. The prosecution, however, objected saying that they did not know anything about this witness and were in the dark.

Crown Judge Donna McColgan said the development was “worse than regrettable” but agreed that the witness must be called for a full and fair trial.

She noted the matter could not be addressed in the very short future and said: “It is with much regret I am going to have to discharge you, the trial cannot continue with this particular issue going unresolved.”

She continued: I am terribly, terribly sorry. It should be noted that there is absolutely no blame attached to counsel.”

Following the direction Kerr was released on continuing bail.

Giving evidence this week, Mr Kerr said that he could have claimed two salaries for his work with SEEDS but did not, as he believed it would have been immoral.

The accused, whose trial began last week, with the opening of the defence case on Monday, said he worked between 60 and 70 hours every week with the organisation and said a case could have been made for him to take a second salary.

Among the charges he faced was that he received two salaries for his work with the charity, but he strenuously denied this was the case.

Before the case collapsed he the court that he did not receive any personal benefit from the funding and insisted he had ‘reprofiled’ the money within the organisation, allowing for the employment of one full time member of staff and one part time member of staff to help with the project’s work.

Giving evidence yesterday Kerr said that it was often necessary for smaller organisations to “juggle things just to keep going”.

The case will be up for mention again on June 27 to set a date for a new trial.