The trial of Deborah Annells in the District Court was enlivened last Friday when her defence counsel, Paul Stephenson took issue with the evidence of two senior figure in the Hong Kong legal community, Christopher Morley and Kevin Egan, who were appearing as witnesses for the prosecution. Morley was acting as Annells’ solicitor and Egan as her counsel at the bail hearing on April 11, 2014 when the offences she is charged with are alleged to have occurred. Prosecutor John Marray noted there had been some “implied criticism” of Egan and Morley by Annells’ defence counsel Paul Stephenson.
Annells has pleaded not guilty to one count of committing an act intended to pervert the course of justice, one of attempted fraud and one of possessing a false instrument. The court heard that Morley and Egan at a committal hearing on April 4 had asked Eastern Magistrates for another date to hear Annells’ application for a variation in her bail terms. Annells who was on police bail at the time wanted her passport returned to her for a limited period so that she could travel to the UK to see her sick father.
In his cross-examination of Morley, Stephenson alleged that Annells was keen for the bail application to be made on April 4th. “My client says it was really Mr Egan who was forestalling the court with going ahead with the bail variation on that day. She was quite keen to get it done so she could get back to her parents for Easter,” he said. Morley told him that Annells wasn’t specific that the application had to be made on April 4th.
But Stephenson pressed him further” “Can I put it to you that she did ask you or Mr Egan to get on and make the bail application there and then”. At this point the judge, Eddie Yip Chor-man, intervened asking Stephenson, “Is there an allegation that Mr Morley and Mr Egan acted contrary to their instructions and did not request the court to deal with her bail application there and then on the 4th April. Is that what you mean? “Yes,” said Stephenson. “It’s a very serious allegation to make, make very serious,” observed the judge.
At which point Stephenson backtracked “I wouldn’t want to go quite so far as that” adding that Mrs Annells was “keen” to have the application heard on the 4th April. Morley told the court that he favoured a later date since it would give more time to prepare the documents and mount a better application for the bail variation.
Stephenson pursued the same line of questioning with Egan who replied, “I’m not left with that recollection.” Are you actually denying she said that?” Stephenson enquired. Egan responded, “This happened nearly 18 months ago, but it is my clear recollection that it was advice based on tactical considerations that it was not appropriate to make an application at this time.”
Morley told the court that he had received an email from Annells after the April 4th hearing, thanking him which he had noticed in the court documents. “Perhaps I could be shown that email,” he suggested. “Well I don’t need it from my point of view – I’ll move on” Stephenson replied. The trial continues.