Saturday, 23 February 2013

The trial of Sandy Ezekiel - Day 4

New things I discovered this week while attending the trial if ex-Thanet Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel and his close friend Philip Emmanuel.

- My dogs really love an early dawn run. Not sure how much I love getting up for a dawn run after less than 5 hours sleep for a week. But they absolutely love it. Thanet fields and countryside looks amazing at that time of the day. And I get back in time to cook breakfasts. Not sure how long I'll keep up these early walks, especially because, I'm not managing to go to sleep any earlier.

- I found food provision immediately around Maidstone Crown Court to be bad and expensive. This makes sense, but is nonetheless a sad fact of life that, when there are limitations on time and what you can take into the court building (no hot food allowed), then it all adds up to bad and expensive food. You can't take hot food into the court building and no food at all into the courtrooms themselves.

- You have to bow to the judge when you come into the courtroom and leave.

Summary of the day's proceedings:
I arrived at around 11am and because the jury were not present in the court until after lunch, there is no reporting allowed of anything that occurs in the absence of the jury.

I tried to get a better lunch than yesterday's Wimpy molten plastic cheese toasty. I had a cheese and bacon panini thing and a tea at the wine bar at the base of the court steps on the river side for £8.60! If only I could have conjured up Margate's The Greedy Cow, Cup Cake Cafe or the T Stall.

The jury were recalled at 2.20pm and Ezekiel was called to the stand. He was being questioned by his defence barrister, Ben Summers. Ezekiel's wife, Cheryl, was in the public gallery along with Councillor Brian Sullivan. The BBC reporter Mark Norman was there all day and I think I saw one other news reporter that I haven't seen before.

The Court heard that Ezekiel has been married twice and to his second wife Cheryl since 2005. He has three children from his previous marriage. He's been in the carpet business for 40 years and has run Northdown Carpets in Northdown Road, Cliftonville for 27 years. He was involved in community groups such as the PTA of his children's school and as Chairman of the Northdown Traders Association. He first became a Councillor in 1999 and shortly after that, in the same year also became Leader of the group and consequently later Leader of Thanet Council. He stood down from his role as Leader in March 2010.

The Court heard that Ezekiel was involved in the regeneration of Margate and the Old Town stating that "I wanted to lead as much as I could on that"

In relation to obligation of councillors to disclose interests:
Ezekiel told the court that as a new councillor that he had received training in the requirements to disclose an interest in property stating "if you owned it, or leased it, you should disclose it".

Ezekiel was asked what the difference was between mortgage or a loan. Ezekiel told the court that a mortgage is were you have beneficial interest in property if a loan it wouldn't have a beneficial interest.

In relation to the properties 12B King Street:
Ezekiel told the Court he couldn't recall being at a meeting at Thanet Council regarding 12B. That he dealt with lots of properties. The court heard that 250 properties repossessed. So a significant number of properties.

In relation to 12A King St, the This and That shop:
Ezekiel was asked if he remembered discussing the property formally. Ezekiel told the court that he couldn't remember it being discussed formally as an agenda item, but that it was certainly discussed informally. This was explained as the Old Town Action Group (OTAG) having expressed concerns over the state of 12A.

His relationship to Philip Emanuel:
Ezekiel told the court that Emanuel was a close friend and had lived with him for 25 years; Emanuel had had a room with him and Ezekiel's first wife, and now, with Cheryl, Emanuel has a maisonette. Ezekiel said, 'we come as a package.'

Ezekiel stated that he and Emanuel had in the past had had a motorcycle shop together.

Ezekiel was asked if he had had various financial dealings with Emanuel over the years. He told the court, 'if you have a friend like Philip, you're very lucky. He's closer to me than a brother. Closer than family.'

Ezekiel explained to the court how he got to know about Emanuel's interest in purchasing 12B from the council and how he only provided him with funding, because at the time, Emanuel hadn't got funding in place.
He was asked "how did you come to know about Philip Emanuel's interest in 12b?
Ezekiel replied that Emanuel had said he'd not got funding in place and "I had excess funding".

Ezekiel was asked about his relationship with estate agents, Cooke and Co. He told the court that he had a business relationship with the owner, Damian Cooke, and that he (Ezekiel) liked to think his business was Cooke and Co's preferred retailer for carpets.

There were questions about Emanuel's brother, the late David Emanuel. Ezekiel told the court that he'd known David Emanuel for years and how David had viewed 12B King Street and how they'd spoken together how perfect it was for Philip Emanuel. The defence barrister then interjected to explain that members of the jury might be puzzled why there were witness statements from David Emanuel saying he'd never been to 12B and how he didn't know Sandy Ezekiel. Ezekiel told the court that this was 'bizarre' and recalled that David did go to 12B. It was confirmed by Ezekiel that David Emanuel was in a very poor state of health at the time and had in fact passed away in April 2012.

On finance for the purchase of the 12B King Street:
Ezekiel told the court that he was just lending Emanuel the money while he was able to raise sufficient funds from the USA where he had several properties and shares. To secure the lending between Ezekiel and his wife to Emanuel, they went to see Margate solicitor, Mike Ryder at Barnes Marsland. Ezekiel told the court that this is a firm that he knows very well.

Ezekiel told the court how Emanuel had asked him to agree to be a post box for him, because he was away. When asked how this post would be dealt with he told the court that his wife, Cheryl Ezekiel would normally deal with it saying 'more than likely that my wife would open and scan it and email. I don't know is the truth'.

On involvement in the purchase, Ezekiel told the court that he didn't have any involvement in the survey whatsoever or discussions about the subsequent price reduction. In the file of documents retrieved from Barnes Marsland there was a hand written note about a 'Duncan'. Ezekiel told the court that Duncan is an insurance broker for the firm Abacus, and that they provide insurance for both him and Emanuel. Ezekiel didn't recall filling out any forms to insure 12B but said that he had paid for the insurance and the insurance was in Emanuel's name.

Regarding the declaration of trust document:
Ezekiel told the court it was recommended by Mike Ryder at Barnes Marsland. He was asked if he saw himself as the owner of 12B. Sandy said 'no, not at all.'

Regarding 12A:
Ezekiel was asked if he was aware that, around this time, various officers at TDC were expressing an interest in the state of the neighbouring property at 12A King Street. Ezekiel told the court on all counts that he was not involved in any terms.

The Court then adjourned and would resume at 10am the following day.

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