‘Ugly Rumour!’ Acting DPP pushes back amid low gang convictions talk Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Claudette Thompson, has refuted claims that her office has not been successful in prosecuting Jamaica’s criminal gangs. 

Speaking at a prosecutors’ training seminar focused on improving the outcomes in anti-gang matters over the weekend, Thompson described this notion as “an ugly rumour” and highlighted several instances where her office has secured convictions against gang leaders and members.

Thompson pointed to there being approximately 244 active gangs operating in Jamaica, and her office has already prosecuted five such criminal organisations, with another five currently before the court. 

She emphasised that success in gang prosecutions should not be solely measured by numbers, but also by the impact of convictions on the gang’s leadership and structure.

“I was in a forum recently where we were talking about gangs and gang prosecutions, and the roles that the police must play, and a few of the prosecutors were invited, and speaker after speaker spoke about the fact that we have prosecuted these gangs—I’ve been involved in three (prosecutions)—but we have not had much success, and I wish to put that ugly rumour to bed.

“We have had much success, because we have seen to the conviction of the leadership of each gang that we have prosecuted,” Thompson declared.

“So, where it is that people are prepared to look at the numbers and the numbers only, as a prosecutor, I stand here and I’m saying to you, ‘You’re not to just look at the numbers, look at the persons who have been convicted’,” she asserted.

Thompson cited the trial of members of the ‘One Don’ faction of the Clansman gang as an example, where leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan and several members were convicted. 

She said there was a “deliberate” effort to seat the initial suspected 33 gangsters based on their serious and important role in the gang. At the end of the trial last year, 15 of them were convicted of serious offences, including murder and arson.

“The most serious offenders—the leaders—were in the front row in courtroom number one. Those who had a lesser role were behind them, and so it continued, and we had the spillover in courtroom number two,” the acting DPP explained. 

“When the verdict was delivered, those persons sitting in the dock in court one were convicted. A few of those seated in court two were convicted as well,” she indicated. 

Thompson underscored that her office will continue to work towards improving outcomes in anti-gang matters, and forums like the prosecutors’ training seminar are crucial in achieving such goals.

“We have had success in prosecuting gangsters in Jamaica, and that is the message that I want to leave you with here today.

“We will continue to do the work we’re doing. We’re going to get better at it, and one of the ways in which we will do that is when we come together in forums like this,” Thompson said.