Two to face false pretence trial produce similar statements


A MAGISTRATE says there is no difference in the declaration statements made by two men committed to a trial in the National Court on stealing by false pretence charges.
The Waigani Committal Court had found sufficient evidence last month to commit Diggar Gipo, 29, of Sebe village, Western, and Ian Peterson Api, 30, of Hula, Central, to the trial.
On Tuesday, Gipo and Api provided their declaration statements and admitted that they had received money from Brian Bell group of companies but had not provided service due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation.
Magistrate Paul Nii said the statements were same as raised in their primary arguments in the police evidence.
He committed Gipo and Api to trial in the National Court before a criminal judge, adjourned the matter to the listings in National Court and ordered that their bail be extended until the hearing on Jan 24.
Gipo and Api were arrested for not supplying information technology (IT) equipment to Brian Bell after they were paid.
The last payment was made by Brian Bell on Jan 6, 2020, and the defendants were arrested on Feb 9, 2020.
Between Aug 15, 2019 and Jan 6, 2020, Gipo and Api were paid a total of K233,354.20 by Brian Bell to provide the IT equipment.
The payments were made seven times between the above dates upon lodgment of invoices.
Magistrate Nii said there was evidence of seven payments made to the defendants through their company.
Gipo and Api admitted that some services were rendered and others were pending before they were arrested.
Magistrate Nii noted that of the K233,345.20 paid, about K17,709.90 was used to buy IT equipment for Brian Bell by the defendants.
“That means a total of K215,635.30 spending is not properly captured in the bank statements so what happened to this money?”
Magistrate Nii said of the seven payments, four were made before the Covid-19 outbreak, and thus, shipment could not have been an issue except the other three.
However, the reason for the delay was not justifiable, he said.
“There is no clear justification as to what happened to the remaining money.” The defendants, through their lawyer, had submitted that they were not given an opportunity to explain to Brian Bell about the delay.

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