Mon | Apr 6, 2020

Discrepancy exposed in Ellington testimony

Published:Wednesday | April 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett
INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams reacts during Owen Ellington's testimony.

THE WEST Kingston commission of Enquiry yesterday heard evidence that contradicted the testimony of former Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington on the number of illegal firearms seized by the security forces during the May 2010 police-military operations in Tivoli Gardens.

Ellington had revealed, in earlier testimony, that a total of 115 illegal weapons were seized in the operations, which were aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

However, during cross-examination yesterday by head of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), Terrence Williams, the retired police chief was confronted with a letter he signed, which asserted that 140 illegal weapons had been seized. The letter - dated June 2012 - was addressed to director of complaints at INDECOM, Paul Dunn.

Before he was directed to the letter, Ellington told the commission - chaired by former chief justice of Barbados, Sir David Simmons - that he could not recall giving that figure "and, if I said so, it would be in error".

Afterwards, Simmons wanted to know how the retired police commissioner "account for the discrepancy".

"The 115 firearms recovered in the operations, that number was arrived at based on the daily count of activities on the ground fed into the headquarters command and control centre and that was what was presented to me as the total number of weapons recovered in the operations," he sought to explain.

"This report, which I signed and sent to Commander Dunn at INDECOM, is a report prepared by [Senior Superintendent] Ezra Stewart [who headed the Bureau of Special Investigations at the time] in which he quotes a figure of 140 and it is a figure he quoted in a previous report which he dated May 25, 2012," Ellington continued.

He admitted that he signed the document "without the detailed evidence to check against" to determine whether the figure of 140 was correct.

"I take full responsibility for signing it," he conceded.

However, he said given the "discrepancy", Stewart should be asked to explain how he arrived at the figure of 140 instead of the 115 contained in the report compiled by the headquarters command and control centre.


downplaying concerns


Stewart is on the list of JCF personnel scheduled to testify before the commission, but the retired police chief downplayed any concerns, saying the "discrepancy" could be explained.

"For me, it is not any big mystery; it can be explained. It may be that he ...," Ellington began to explain, but stopped, saying he did not want to pre-empt Stewart's testimony.

Meanwhile, the former police commissioner said he should be judged by the way the operations in Coke's west Kingston stronghold were planned, executed and monitored.

However, during the cross-examination by Williams - which at times got testy - Ellington insisted that he should not be judged on how the operations were reviewed by persons outside the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

The commission is probing the conduct of the operations in which more than 70 civilians and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force were killed.

Ellington acknowledged that there were hundreds of complaints about misconduct by members of the JCF, but "flatly" rejected them, saying they were never substantiated.

He will face more questioning when the enquiry continues today.