A former gangster has asserted that residents of Jones Avenue in Spanish Town, St Catherine were forced to “work alongside” members of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang.
The statement was made on Monday by the prosecution’s second witness while he was being cross-examined by attorney Venice Brown, who represents Dylon McLean, one of the 33 accused persons in the ongoing gang trial.
The witness who said he was a former second in command of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang, which was allegedly led by Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan.
According to the witness, the gang often gathered at a house in the Jones Avenue area to plan and execute their criminal missions.
The witness claimed that on one occasion prior to a double murder and arson attack in a community called ‘Fisheries’ in Twickenham Park, a group of some 20 gangsters gathered behind a church in the Jones Avenue community.
Brown asked the former gangster-turned-witness whether the gang has been hiding from the police.
In response, the witness said there was no need for the gangsters to hide, as “people in the community work alongside the gang.
“They (the residents) had to,” he maintained, adding that the gangsters were in the community hours before the double murder and arson attack in ‘Fisheries’.
In his previous testimonies at the keenly watched trial, the witness claimed that Bryan had an unfinished recording studio, a house and bar in Jones Avenue, which was the headquarters of the gang.
During his cross-examination by Brown on Monday, the witness made further claims that alleged members of the gang, including Bryan, often eluded the police by hiding in natural holes behind an old house.
Additionally, he said there was a secret escape route from Jones Avenue, which was located behind McLean’s home.
“They (the police) wouldn’t know that escape route to go through the fence and enter Shelter Rock or ball ground to get to Fisheries,” said the witness.
Meanwhile, Brown rejected claims that her client, McLean, was a member of any gang, and that the witness knew him.
To make her point, the attorney told the witness that McLean’s name was not on the list of gang members that he gave to the police in his statement.
While the witness admitted that McLean was not mentioned in the statement, he insisted that he knew McLean personally.
In providing a reason why the accused was not mentioned in his statement to the police, the witness said he did not remember him (the accused) at the time of giving the statement.
Additionally, he said he did not list all members of the gang, as he could not provide all the details he knew on each member.
But Brown maintained that the witness had no details to give to the police about her client’s involvement, as he (the witness) had no knowledge of McLean.
The witness countered by rubbishing the suggestion, reiterating that he knew the accused, with whom he said he frequently shared company.
But Brown accused the witness of making up stories, arguing that McLean was not among gangsters who carried out the killings in ‘Fisheries’.
Further, she said the witness’ statements had several other omissions, including his testimony where he alleged that McLean had illegal guns.
The witness shot back by reminding the attorney that he had testified to witnessing McLean removing an Intra-Tech gun from a roof.
Brown enquired whether that information was not crucial to share in his statement to the police.
The witness responded: “… I didn’t put nuff tings in my statement, but I am telling the truth”.
Bryan, along with 31 other men and a woman, are being tried in the Home Circuit Court under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act), 2014, better known as the anti-gang legislation, on an indictment with 25 counts, for allegedly being part of a criminal organisation, in a judge-alone trial.
Bryan and his co-accused have all pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
The men and the woman 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.
The trial is to continue on Tuesday.