Chief Justice hammers cops for weak investigative work on ‘Clans’ case | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes on Wednesday criticised police investigators for taking too many shortcuts in their probe of the alleged members of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang.

In also questioning aspects of the prosecution’s case and criticising their marshalling of the evidence, Sykes said the level of investigative work by the police in the gang case was not reflective of the 21st century.

The views were aired by the judge during the continuation of the crown’s response to no-case submissions from defence attorneys representing the 28 defendants still on trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

Sykes’ fury was on display as members of the four-member prosecution team presented arguments to substantiate that there is sufficient evidence for defendant Jason Brown, alias ‘City Puss’, to answer to charges of being part of a criminal organisation.

According to the prosecution, Brown was an active member of the gang from behind bars, and played a critical role in gathering funds for the criminal organisation through extortion to purchase guns and ammunition.

Brown was incarcerated at the Horizon Remand Centre after being convicted of an unrelated murder in 2012.

A retired police investigator testified at the trial that from behind bars, Brown was giving orders for extortion against Spanish Town business people, and also ordering murders.

The prosecution also explained that the retired investigator had testified that he went to business establishments in and around Spanish Town, St Catherine.

The officer said business owners played voice notes they received from a man who issued threats and urged them to pay the money or they would suffer the consequences of having their businesses destroyed.

But the investigator admitted during his testimony that he did not know the voice of the man in the voice notes initially. He said that after he visited an inmate at the Horizon Remand Centre, he was certain that the voice was that of ‘City Puss’, and he charged the inmate with being part of a criminal organisation.

Sykes on Wednesday asked the prosecution about the whereabouts of those “threatening” voice notes.

He further queried whether the court was to accept the claims of the policeman without the supporting evidence to back the claim.

In response, one of the prosecutors told the chief justice that it was a matter of “credibility for the judge to determine”.

“Nonsense!…” thundered Sykes as he urged the prosecution to move away from that talk relative to the issue being one of credibility.

Continuing, he questioned: “You claim that you have voice notes that enabled you to recognise the voice of the defendant, and the voice notes are not produced in court?”

According to Sykes, the crown, in seeking to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, must put its best evidence forward.

He then took issue with the police, and questioned why their investigative teams have not utilised modern techniques of investigation.

In using the visit of the senior police investigator to Horizon Remand Centre as an example, Sykes suggested that he (the officer) should have equipped the room with microphones or have worn one, to record the voice of City Puss.

“This is the 21st century!” the judge lamented repeatedly.

Throughout the day’s proceedings, Sykes continued to highlight that it was not for the lack of technology and resources available to the police why the investigative work in the One Don case was weak.

He claimed that the technology is available to the police, and it should have been used in their investigations.

Amid the views of the judge, a senior prosecutor asked that the court accept the evidence of the senior investigator relative to the identification of the voice of the defendant Jason Brown, in lieu of other evidentiary material.

The 28 accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act), 2014, better known as the anti-gang legislation, on an indictment containing several counts.

Interestingly, six of the 25 counts under which the gangsters were charged, were removed by the prosecution because of lack of evidence.

Overall, the accused were charged with multiple other offences, including being part of a criminal organisation, illegal possession of firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, facilitating conspiracy to murder, and facilitating arson.

The offences were allegedly committed between January 1, 2015, and June 30, 2019, in St Catherine.