Tue | Nov 28, 2023

Death or prison

Witness says he was only given two options out of gang

Published:Friday | October 29, 2021 | 12:11 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

A former top lieutenant in the One Don Gang yesterday testified that reputed leader Andre 'Blackman' Bryan had warned him that the only way out of the gang was death or prison.

The witness, who claimed to have risen to the level of second in command after joining the gang in 2016 while being a full-time private-sector worker, said Blackman gave him the warning after appointing him don of a community in St Catherine in 2018.

The witness, who had reportedly started out by being one of the gang's drivers, testified in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston yesterday that it was another gang member who told him that Blackman said he was now the don after his friend, who held that position, had been arrested.

The friend in question – defendant Daniel McKenzie, otherwise called 'Biggs' – was the person who the witness had testified had introduced him to Blackman.

However, the witness said, “Before him give me this title, I told him that this life wasn't made for me as I am a married man, and him told me the only way out is graveside or prison.”

According to the witness, as far as he knew, he was the only married member of the gang.

He told the court that Blackman had a high level of respect for him and had instructed gang members to obey the witness' orders without questioning.

The witness, in explaining the role of the don, said that Blackman maintained control of several communities in St Catherine – including Jones Avenue, Shelter Road, the top of March Pen Road, Top Banks, Africa, and Rivoli – and appointed different gangsters to represent him in those areas.

Those dons, the witness testified, would maintain control of the community and handle any problems that arose in consultation with the reputed leader.

While detailing his involvement with the gang, the former gang member told the court that at one point, Blackman raised concerns about a lull in shootings and murders in the St Catherine area.

The witness recalled that this was after Blackman had asked him to pick up two members of the gang before a shooting mission that they had allegedly abandoned because a police car had been driving behind them when they reached the target.

However, he said that after he had picked up the men and taken them to Blackman, the first thing he said was “Nobody nah dead” and that the “man dem a ramp wid di badness”.

The witness further testified that the lone female defendant, Stephanie Christie, who he said was the gang's liaison officer and financial manager, had also expressed a similar concern when Blackman was in jail.

“We need to up wi game as wi caa water dung Blackman ting,” the witness recalled Christie telling him.

At the same time, the witness testified that he and several members of the gang, including the defendant who he called 'City Puss' and who he also described as one of the gang's second in command, would often spend hours on the phone at night talking about “nothing but violence and murder”.

Furthermore, he said, “City Puss always have somebody him wah fi dead.”

According to the witness, he did not take instruction from City Puss as he was “evil”.

The witness will continue giving evidence today via video link.

The reputed leader and 32 other alleged gang members are being tried on an indictment with 25 counts under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act and the Firearms Act.

The One Don Gang is a breakaway of the Clansman Gang.