Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Tivoli Gardens enquiry

Published:Friday | December 5, 2014 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

A Tivoli Gardens resident has testified that he witnessed a member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) collar another man and used him to smash several glass windows on a house during the 2010 police-military operations in the west Kingston community.

This was among several acts of brutality Maurice Tomlinson claims he witnessed and endured at the hands of soldiers on May 24, 2010 as he gave

evidence yesterday morning before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

Tomlinson, the seventh witness to take the stand, was also the first to report seeing what he described as "a rocket-propelled" bomb land in Tivoli Gardens.

However, Linton Gordon, one of the attorneys for the JDF, interrupted Tomlinson's testimony to indicate that some of the allegations "are taking us by surprise".

As a result, Gordon questioned if the witness' account was contained in a statement he had not received. However, senior counsel for the Commission, Garth McBean, said that was not the case.

Tomlinson testified that after he saw the bomb, he became terrified and took his wife and three children to his mother's house nearby.

He said once inside his mother's home, the gunfire intensified and he heard another bomb, and this sent everyone running to the home of another neighbour he identified only as 'Donnette'.

Tomlinson recounted that by this time, Donnette's house was packed like "sardine" and "everyone was singing and praying 'cause dem a Christian".

Encounter with soldiers

He said he went to a rear bathroom window to see what was happening outside when he came face-to-face with a soldier's rifle.

"Him fire a shot and me jump back and the shot went through the house and mash up the wall," he recalled.

Tomlinson said other soldiers who were outside the house then ordered all the men to come outside.

He said when he went outside, a soldier, whose face was covered with mesh and paint - "like inna war show" - kicked him in his stomach.

"It feel like every breat inna me body gone," he testified.

He said he was kicked in the buttocks and fell to the ground, when a soldier used his boots to step on his face.

The 40-year-old construction worker said his wife, who witnessed the beating, sought to ask the soldier why he was being treated that way and "him call her and gi har one box".

"A straight over one picket fence she land," he recalled.

Tomlinson testified that another soldier then grabbed a man who was in the house - who he identified as 'Pretty Paul' - and used him to smash several windows on Donnette's house.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com