A former gang member testified on Monday that reputed leader of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, ordered another gang member to carry out a murder in 2019 while Blackman was behind bars.
The assertion was made during the playing of cell phone conversations of the gangsters which were secretly recorded by the former gangster-turned-state-witness.
The recordings were aired at the ongoing gang trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
A total of 33 persons, including Bryan, are on trial for a raft of criminal offences, including murder and arson.
According to the witness, a gang member who he identified by his alias, ‘Rahzeem’, was instructed to carry out the hit to gain Bryan’s trust.
The man known as ‘Rahzeem’ and another man were later shot and killed during an alleged shootout with the police on January 25, 2019.
When asked by prosecutors how he knew Bryan had gave Rahzeem instructions to carry out a murder, the witness said Bryan issued the order during a cell phone conversation.
The witness, a self-styled former don, said defendant Jahzeel ‘Squeeze Eye’ Blake was the one who allegedly drove the intended getaway car when the hit was to have been carried out.
The former gangster testified that on the day in question, he was driving behind Blake’s vehicle. He (the witness) said the vehicle he was driving belonged to Stephanie Christie, alias ‘Mumma’, an alleged main operative in the gang and a St Thomas pastor.
The witness said once he arrived at the area where the murder was to be committed, he parked at an area known as Borderline in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
There was no mention of whether the murder was actually carried out, during the testimony.
Earlier in the proceedings, the prosecution attempted to play an hour-long recording of a secretly recorded phone conversation.
However, presiding judge, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, objected, insisting that prosecutors play only the sections of the recordings which demonstrated that the defendants are linked to the criminal organisation.
The prosecutors conceded to the ruling, and went on to play a conversation between an alleged gangster called ‘Check’ and the former gangster-turned-crown-witness.
The conversation was centred on the 2017 murder of Jermaine Bryan and his girlfriend, Cedella Walder, in ‘New Nursery’ or ‘Fisheries’, an informal community in Spanish Town.
“Wi just guh over deh guh blaze up ova deh. A just 12 a wi guh ova deh dawg,” Check told his then crony.
“A how much. A two people? A man and a woman?” quizzed the now witness.
“Yeah, a man and woman,” replied Check.
After the recording concluded, the witness explained that he and the gangster were discussing the murder of the couple. He said Check said 12 members of the gang went to the community to carry out the gun attack.
In another audio recording that was played in court on Monday, then Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) member, Jermaine Robinson, and the witness were engaged in a conversation.
“… Mi did want a link from him from when. Him can shout mi still inna the lunch time. A really school mi a guh pon di camp,” Robinson said.
“’bout seven dem time deh a good time. Him deh pon di road man,” the witness shared in the cell phone conversation.
The witness told the court that the conversation followed a WhatsApp call that was made between him and Robinson.
However, it was said that the recording software could not record the earlier WhatsApp call between himself and the then soldier.
He explained that the cell phone conversation was centred around Robinson’s desire to speak with Bryan, who was in custody at that time.
The witness said when he told the army man, “Him (Bryan) deh pon di road”, he meant that the alleged gang leader was able to make cell phone calls.
He also claimed that when Robinson indicated that he was at school, it meant that he was attending classes at the JDF camp.
In response to the testimony and recordings, Sykes said there was no mention of Bryan’s name in the audio.
Based on that, the judge said there was no evidence to suggest that the conversation was about Bryan.
The witness, however, claimed that both himself and Robinson were discussing Bryan on a WhatsApp call, but the call recording software could not record the initial conversation.
The 33 accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act), 2014, better known as the anti-gang legislation, on an indictment with 25 counts.
They have been charged with multiple 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.