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Commission chair declares senior cop's evidence 'suspicious'

Published:Tuesday | November 3, 2015 | 11:00 AMLivern Barrett

Chairman of the West Kingston commission of enquiry, Sir David Simmons, yesterday told a senior police officer that he was "suspicious" of aspects of his testimony.

Simmons' pronouncement came as Superintendent Everton Tabannah was testifying about what he described as "terrifying" stories related to him by residents of Tivoli Gardens a day after the launch of the May 2010 operations to capture drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Tabannah was stopped by Simmons in the middle of relating to the commission how a female resident told him of gunmen from the St Andrew community of Grants Pen who were in Tivoli Gardens because they were promised $50,000 to help prevent Coke's capture.

"None of this is in the witness (Tabannah's) statement," the former Barbados chief justice noted, setting off an exchange with attorney-at-law Deborah Martin, who is representing the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Martin sought to explain that in preparing the senior policeman to give his evidence, "I realised he had all this information within him.

"It being an enquiry and persons being allowed to speak of matters within their knowledge once it touches and concerns the terms of reference, persons have been allowed to go way off their statements and even reject their statements," Martin said, as she sought to explain her actions.

"You do what you want; we will make our findings at the end of the day. You bring whatever evidence you like - surprise us, ambush us ... whatever you like ... ," Simmons countered as Martin tried to interrupt.

"Let me finish, because what is happening is that after witnesses have given evidence, and perhaps in some cases have been exposed, an attempt is being made to cover that ground," he continued.

Martin fired back, saying, "I have a difficulty with the accusation of ambush and surprise."

Simmons insisted: "I am suspicious of the evidence, let me tell you that. I am suspicious of this evidence."

Martin shot back: "Mr Chairman, I am alarmed that you find it suspicious."

Simmons continued: "The circumstances just don't sit comfortably with me. But go ahead and let him give the evidence."

Tabannah said some of the men from Grants Pen asked for a down payment on the $50,000 and "she heard that they were refused and some of them were shot".

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com