Sykes to rule whether alleged ‘Clans’ gangsters to answer charges | Loop Jamaica

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Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is expected to rule on Monday whether the 28 alleged members of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang will answer to a raft of charges for serious criminal offences, including murder, arson and extortion.

The prosecution on Thursday completed its response to no-case submissions that were made by the defence attorneys representing the accused persons in the trial now under way in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

But despite the crown insisting that they have presented all the evidence that they have to prove that the alleged gangsters committed the crimes, Sykes criticised the absence of evidentiary material, including photographs of crime scenes, and flaws in the chain of custody of items that were collected from crime scenes.

The issue of flaws in the collection of evidence and the subsequent storage of such material was highlighted when the prosecutors sought to explain how an expert police witness prepared a ballistic report outlining linkages between crime scenes and firearms allegedly used by the gangsters.

The cop had testified that he examined about 10 crimes to which the prosecution had linked the defendants.

The witness had assumed that all the evidentiary material he collected and examined were recovered from the scenes they were said to be from when they were submitted to the forensic laboratory for testing and analysis.

Prosecutors submitted that of the 10 crimes, there was testimony that indicated that material from two of those incident scenes were carried to the laboratory for examination.

One of those crime scenes was that of the murder of a man known as ‘Doolie’. He was allegedly killed by members of the gang on Red Hills Road in St Andrew in 2017.

Prosecutors said a police witness had testified to processing that scene. She testified that she picked up multiple spent shell casings that were packaged and sent off to storage for future analysis.

There was also testimony from a policeman who indicated that he took those spent shell casings to the laboratory for the testing to be conducted.

It is against that background why the prosecution is contending that the findings of the ballistic report is in agreement with the evidence presented through the testimony of the officers.

However, Sykes intervened and enquired whether there were photographs of the crime scenes or any other documentation relative to the incidents.

“No,” replied one of the four prosecutors.

The island’s top jurist then asked whether spent shell casings from the murder scenes or the ballistic certificates were tendered as evidence.

In response, the prosecutor said this was not done.

This further infuriated Sykes, who remarked: “What we have here is a faith-based statement.

“It can’t be that you have a homicide in Jamaica in the 21st century and no record can be found.” .

Several of the police investigators were seemingly uneasy when that comment was made by the chief justice.

One of the police witness had testified earlier in the trial that the photographs of the crime scene of the murder of Doolie could not be located. He claimed that the hard drive had developed a technical problem, and the back-up storage system had crashed.

Meanwhile, prosecutors submitted that there was evidence of material being collected regarding a double murder at ‘New Nursery’ and ‘Fisheries’ in Spanish Town, St Catherine in September 2017. In that incident, Jermaine Robinson and Cedella Walder were both killed in bed, and their house was then set ablaze, all allegedly by members of the gang.

Prosecutors reminded the court that an officer who processed the scene had testified that he collected spent shell casings and took photographs of the scene.

The firearms that was linked to that murder was recovered by the police on November 17, 2017, allegedly in the possession of defendant Tareek James.

The weapon and the photographs from the murder and arson scene were all tendered in evidence, argued the prosecution.

“Look at the contrast between the two incidents – chalk and cheese. One is documented, (while) the other, zero documentation of any kind,” commented Sykes.

At that juncture, a senior prosecutor submitted that the crown had presented all the evidence they had against the 28 defendants.

The trial was adjourned until Monday when the highly anticipated ruling on the no-case submissions is to be delivered.

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 are 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, mainly in St Catherine.