Wed | Nov 25, 2020

King Valley Trial | Defence questions integrity of Westmoreland gang probe

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2020 | 12:00 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer

Defence attorneys yesterday charged that the investigation into the Westmoreland-based King Valley Gang was “botched”, “shoddy” and “misguided”.

Besides grilling the lead investigator, the attorneys also questioned why the witness, who cannot be named because of a court order, was not charged despite admitting to committing a number of crimes, including rape.

Donald Bryan, the attorney representing Rannaldo ‘Ratty’ McKennis, was the first to raise the question of why the former gangster-turned-Crown witness had not been brought to book.

However, the assistant superintendent of police (ASP) who led the investigations said, “As I stated earlier, I am currently investigating allegations.”

The attorney also asked whether the witness had been offered any promises in exchange for his testimony in court.

“I did not make a promise, and that information did not come to me at anytime,” the woman ASP said. She also cannot be named because of safety concerns.

Bryan also suggested that “this investigation is a botched investigation” and “the case as poorly conducted.”

Responding to both suggestions, she said, “No, my Lord.”

Attorney-at-law Oneil Brown, who is representing accused Derval ‘Luki’ Williams, had even more questions.

He asked the ASP why the witness had not been charged, but she indicated that her investigation led her to the men – McKennis, Williams, Christon Grant, Hopeton Sankey, Copeland Sankey, Sean Suckra, Carlington Godfrey, and Lindel Powell – who were seated in the dock.

She further testified that none of the material that she has gathered suggested that the witness had been part of a criminal organisation.

Brown later suggested that the witness “sold his soul to save himself”.

“I did not buy any soul. I do not know what you are talking about,” the investigating officer shot back.

The ASP was testifying in the trial of eight alleged members of the King Valley Gang at the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

Earlier in the proceedings, Brown had objected to the admission of eight photos of deceased people into evidence.

However, the presiding judge, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, allowed the photos, citing that they were all needed to demonstrate that the witness had not been prompted and aided in identifying any deceased.

The alleged gang members are on trial for breaches of Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) 2014, commonly called the anti-gang legislation, in relation to crimes committed between 2016 and 2018.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com