Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Gunmen offered cops safe passage out of Tivoli

Published:Wednesday | October 28, 2015 | 10:00 AMLivern Barrett
Retired Superintendent of Police Delroy Hewitt on the stand at the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry yesterday.

A high-ranking police officer yesterday recounted how gunmen from Tivoli Gardens offered safe passage to about 30 members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) hunkered down inside the Denham Town Police Station after it was attacked with explosives.

Superintendent Arthur Brown, commanding officer for the West Kingston Police Division at the time, said the offer was made in a telephone call to a female district constable who used to reside in Tivoli Gardens.

"She got a call from someone, gunmen, who told her they would allow us to leave the station," Brown testified before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry yesterday.

"Did you leave the station?" attorney-at-law Valerie Neita-Robertson, who is representing the JCF, questioned.

"The Denham Town Police Station is still standing," he replied.

According to Brown's testimony, the offer came a day before the start of the May 2010 operations to capture drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, and hours after, the station was attacked with C4 explosives and sprayed with heavy and sustained gunfire.

He said the district constable and another member of the JCF left the station shortly after and encountered a roadblock on their way home.

"They were allowed to go through because of who they were," Brown said.

He recalled how the ordeal, which lasted for several hours, left some of the men and women under his command traumatised.

Retired Senior Superintendent Delroy Hewitt, who also testified yesterday, revealed that there is a cemetery in Tivoli Gardens referred to as 'Heroes Park'. According to Hewitt, the 'cemetery' is reserved for the burial of respected gangsters from the community.

"I am certain that 'Jah T' [Coke's brother, Mark Coke] and 'Jim Brown' [Coke's late father and leader of the Shower Posse, Lester Lloyd Coke] are buried there," Hewitt asserted.

The testimony came as Hewitt, who served two stints as head of the west Kingston Police, provided a history of the Tivoli Gardens gang, the enormous influence it wielded, and the culture of silence among residents who aided its activities.

He testified that Coke ruled the west Kingston community with an iron fist, aided by silence among residents.

Hewitt acknowledged that majority of citizens in Tivoli Gardens are decent, law-abiding persons, but he asserted that they are trapped in a situation where they have to follow the status quo.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com