NINE GUILTY - Uchence Wilson, cronies to be sentenced next month
Nine members of the Uchence Wilson Gang convicted of being a part of the criminal organisation in the trial which was concluded on Tuesday will be sentenced on November 30 revealed Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, as he completed his summation of the 19-month trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston yesterday.
Those convicted are Wilson, Fitzroy Scott, Stephenson Bennett, Michael Lamonth, Machel Goulbourne, Derron Taylor, Odeen Smith, Lanworth Geohagen and Sheldon Christian.
Initially, 25 persons were brought before the court on a long list of charges.
Wilson has been convicted on 10 of the 34 charges laid against him.
Yesterday, he was found guilty of leading a criminal organisation and faces up to 30 years in prison. He was also found guilty of shooting with intent and illegal possession of a firearm.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn told The Gleaner that the nine convicts formed the top-tier of the gang, which is said to have wreaked havoc in St Catherine, Clarendon, St Andrew, St Mary, Manchester, Trelawny, and St Ann, and was busted in December 2017.
“It was a very difficult investigation and prosecution,” she said, lauding the court, the police and her team of prosecutors.
She also commended the defence in the case, acknowledging that the trial was under a fairly new piece of legislation.
As Sykes acquitted several of the accused of a number of charges citing lack of evidence, Llewellyn said her team learned valuable lessons.
“[The chief justice] seems to have set the bar very, very high,” Llewellyn stated.
The DPP told The Gleaner that her office has made recommendations for amendments to the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act – commonly called the anti-gang legislation – to a parliamentary committee conducting a review.
“For example, to enlarge the list of schedule offences of the act. When you look at it, it doesn’t cover receiving stolen property, it doesn’t cover praedial larceny; it doesn’t cover several serious matters. That has to be enlarged,” the DPP said.
PUBLIC URGED TO HELP
With several of the accused walking free because of insufficient evidence, Llewellyn called on the public to give more support to investigators.
“Both the police investigators and the prosecutors will be seeking to see how we can enhance the products and the fruits of the investigation in terms of making sure of having more supporting material available,” she said.
It is said that the gang gained more than $400 million from its illegal activities across the island and was linked to 12 licensed firearms that were reported stolen during 18 robberies.
Police Corporal Lloyd Knight, Dane Edwards, Keron Walters and Kenneth Wynter were freed yesterday of charges against them. The presiding judge said there was not enough evidence linking the men to the gang.
On Monday, Wilson’s girlfriend, Shantol Gordon, also walked free.
In acquitting Gordon, Sykes said the prosecution’s evidence against her was insufficient to prove that she concealed a gang member knowing he was part of the gang.