In assessing aspects of the evidence of two former gangsters, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has indicated that there appears to be no evidence of collusion between the testimonies of the men.
Sykes made the observation on Thursday during week two of his summation of the keenly watched One Don faction of the Clansman gang trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
Some key defendants, including alleged gang leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, suspected top-tier member and St Thomas pastor Stephanie ‘Mumma’ Christie, murder convict Jason ‘City Puss’ Brown, and ex-soldier Jermaine Robinson, are among the 27 defendants who remain on trial.
The accused are being tried for several offences, including multiple murders and arson.
Sykes assessed the evidence of the two former gangsters-turned-state witnesses in relation to the murder of an unidentified Rastafarian man on Jones Avenue in Spanish Town, St Catherine on January 14, 2018.
He said there appeared to be similarities in the accounts given by the former gangsters, a man who said he was the gang’s banker and another who identified himself as a former don.
While pointing out that accomplices cannot corroborate evidence in law, Sykes said it was not surprising that there were similarities in the testimonies presented at the trial by them.
The judge made note of the accounts of both men in which they said Bryan had ordered defendants Michael Whitely and Brian Morris to murder a Rastafarian man.
Bryan, Morris and Whitely are charged with the murder, but the latter two allegedly carried out the shooting, according to the evidence given by the two witnesses.
Further testimony from the gang’s then-banker was that Bryan instructed him to drive Morris and Whitely to the location.
The other witness, a former self-styled don, had testified that defendants Jahzel Blake and Ted Prince also played roles in the proper execution of the crime.
He said Blake was ordered to ensure that the target was at the location on Jones Avenue, while Prince was to ensure that the guns to be used in the murder were secured.
Blake had been freed of murder charges relative to the incident, due to what was then said to be insufficient evidence to convict him of the crime.
However, Sykes reiterated that though both Blake and Prince are not currently charged in relation to the Rastafarian murder, the testimony presented that linked them to the scene could still be used to determine whether they are members of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang.
The judge also reminded the court of the testimony of one of the ex-gangsters that the alleged gang members met up at Shelter Rock in St Catherine, after the murder had reportedly been committed.
The other main witness had given similar testimony relative to the meeting spot.
The judge said the absence of collusion in the testimonies suggested that both men appeared to have given independent accounts of the incident.
Noting that both witnesses had given their police statements a year apart, Sykes said it appeared the information contained in them was not shared.
The judge, however, said the court must take into account omissions.
He said one witness — a self-styled don — testified that Jahzeel Blake was instructed to locate the target and report back to Bryan, but the other main witness made no mention of that defendant.
Sykes said these differences must be noted when arriving at a verdict in the case.
The 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.
The offences were allegedly committed between January 1, 2015, and June 30, 2019, mainly in St Catherine, with at least one murder being committed in St Andrew.