Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has described as “remarkable”, the lack of evidence presented by the prosecution to link alleged members of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang to the murder of an unidentified man at a hardware store in Spanish Town, St Catherine in 2018.
The prosecution is contending, however, that the testimony presented by a former gangster-turned- – state witness is enough evidence to link members of the gang to that crime, despite the absence of other material.
The crown on Monday made the assertion during their response to no-case submissions by defence attorneys representing the 28 defendants still on trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
The trial resumed after a two-week break due to one of the defendants, Stephanie ‘Mumma’ Christie, recently testing positive for COVID-19.
The prosecutors sought to defend the evidence it had put forward for months against the remaining alleged members of the criminal organisation.
Five men were freed last month of charges linking them to the gang, due to insufficient evidence.
But on Monday, prosecutors told Sykes that there is enough evidence for the reputed leader of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, to answer to offences relative to being part of a criminal organisation.
For example, the prosecutors pointed to count 20 on the indictment, which speaks to a murder of an unknown man on January 15, 2018 at Phil’s Hardware in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
The prosecutors said there is evidence presented by a former gangster-turned-state-witness that Bryan allegedly gave orders for other members of the gang to kill a man who walking on the roadway.
The prosecutor said Bryan told his foot soldiers to “nyam a food”, meaning they were to kill the man.
The witness, according to the prosecution, said the order was followed, and the man was shot several times and later died at the scene.
However, Sykes challenged the arguments that was being put forward by the prosecution, and enquired whether there was other evidence presented at the trial to support the witness’ allegations.
“No, my Lord,” the prosecutor indicated.
A seemingly shocked Sykes replied: “This is a remarkable state of affairs!
“No police investigation took place? No police witness? No photographs? No post-mortem? No relatives of the deceased man who we don’t even know the name of?” questioned the seemingly bewildered judge.
The prosecutor then replied: “My Lord, the crown has put up all that it has”.
In response, Sykes said in the 21st century, it is hard to accept such submissions without supporting evidence to justify the claims that are being made.
Despite the judge’s remarks, the four-member prosecution team maintained that the Spanish Town, St Catherine-based gang had a particular structure, and evidence was presented that each member had defined roles in carrying out various criminal acts.
In relation to defendant Tomrick Taylor, the prosecution said one of the two former gangsters-turned-state-witness had testified that he was given an order by Bryan to kill a man by the man of ‘Doolie’.
The prosecutor argued that the witness had testified that Taylor and others allegedly collected guns and drove to an area of Red Hills Road in St Andrew to commit the murder.
But Sykes again intervened, and asked whether the prosecution was relying on that case only to prove that Taylor was a member of the criminal organisation.
In response, the prosecutor replied: “Yes and no”.
In clarifying that answer, the prosecutor explained that there was other evidence presented at the trial that proved that Taylor was in the company of the alleged gangsters.
Further, the crown reminded that one of the two main witnesses had testified that Taylor was allegedly a top shooter of the gang.
Unconvinced by the argument being presented, Sykes suggested that there was a difference between association and membership of the gang.
Turning to defendant Kevaughn Green, prosecutors rejected suggestion by his attorney that he was only charged because he was the blood brother of the alleged gang leader, Bryan.
To substantiate their claim, they pointed to testimony by a former gangster that Green was a top-tier member of the criminal outfit.
The witness also claimed that Green took orders from his brother, a prosecutor claimed during their response to the no-case submission from the accused man’s attorney.
“Him had talk over all the dons,” the prosecutor said in quoting the testimony of the witness.
The crown also referred to testimony of witnesses that placed Green in the company of gangsters at meetings that were presided over by his brother.
But Sykes again intervened, asking whether there was concrete evidence that proved that Green was, in fact, at the mentioned meetings.
The crown responded by indicating that there was sufficient evidence that placed Green at those meetings.
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.