Hard-won case! Ninja Man, son,co-accused found guilty of murder
Veteran dancehall artiste Desmond 'Ninja Man' Ballentyne, who earlier this year was called on by the Ministry of National Security to be a motivational speaker for members of the police force, was yesterday convicted of murder by the Supreme Court.
Ballentyne was charged with murder and shooting with intent following a gun attack in March 2009, which left Ricardo Johnson, a resident of Marl Road in St Andrew, dead.
Ballentyne's son, Janeil, and Dennis Clayton, who were also charged in relation to the incident, were also convicted of murder.
"It was a hard case, it was a difficult case. Circumstantial evidence cases are difficult cases. The Crown had to prove that there was a common design to cause serious bodily harm to Mr Johnson, and that in pursuant of this common design, all three were culpable," explained Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, following the ruling.
"It was a hard fought case in terms of the law. It lasted about five weeks and you would have appreciated that with very experience (defense) council of that quality that they would have given 150 per cent, but commendations to the prosecutions team, which stuck to its task."
Llewellyn also thanked investigators from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Ministry of Justice, which assisted prosecutors in securing two witnesses for the case.
According to the DPP, the incident with Johnson stemmed from a domestic altercation the day before his demise.
There was a fight, and Desmond Ballentyne and the co-accused returned the following day with guns and other weapons. They chased Johnson and another witness through a fence, and, as Johnson tried to fend off the attackers, shots were fired and he was hit in the side. He later died.
Desmond Ballentyne was charged with shooting with intent after he reportedly fired two shots at one of the witnesses during the incident.
He was convicted by a seven-member jury.
The Ballentynes and Clayton are slated for a sentencing hearing on December 15, said Llewellyn, who noted that at least three witnesses gave testimony at the trial.
Unlike other cases involving dancehall artistes, there were no crowds outside the Supreme Court awaiting yesterday's verdict. Instead, the area was littered with reporters, who only got "No comment! No comment!" from Ballentyne's defence lawyer, Valerie Neita-Robertson, QC, as she walked from the court, passing a handful of civilians waiting to catch a glimpse of the entertainer being escorted into a police van.
Before the trial commenced, attorneys for all three accused men made an application for a stay of proceedings on the grounds that the eight-year delay was an abuse of the process. However, presiding judge Martin Gayle refused the application and ordered that the trial commence immediately. There had been at least 17 trial dates and 23 mention dates in the case.
In January, Ballentyne and renowned dancehall artiste Rodney Pryce, more popularly called 'Bounty Killer', were summoned by National Security Minister Robert Montague to give a motivational talk to police officers on crime.
Ballentyne - who then cited proper compensation as a deterrent to police corruption - reportedly raised the occasion as part of his defence, but prosecutors said the argument found no favour with the court, which questioned the security ministry's action.