Tue | Jan 18, 2022

DON PUZZLE

Police grilled over why ex-gangster witness not charged with any crime

Published:Friday | December 3, 2021 | 12:12 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

The detective sergeant who led the One Don Gang investigation has defended the police’s decision not to charge the former top-tier gang member who had outed his alleged ex-cronies, claiming he was never wanted in the St Catherine North Police Division for any crime.

The police investigator found himself in the hot seat during cross-examination as the trial continued Thursday in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

Pressed by defence attorney-at-law Denise Hinson, the sergeant said that the ex-gangster-turned-state witness was never a suspect in any of the crimes investigated by the police and no reports had been made against him in the division.

“But he told you from his own mouth that he was involved in the criminal acts that the gang had carried out, so why wasn’t he charged?” Hinson asked.

“There are other investigations taking place. What we did was a gang investigation, which ended up with these people being charged,” the investigator replied.

The witness was similarly questioned by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes as to why the ex-gangster was not charged after he had “bared his soul” to him and had confessed that he was a member of a criminal organisation and had even helped the police to retrieve two illegal firearms.

According to the judge, the police must have believed the ex-gangster, given that the defendants are on trial.

But the investigator maintained that after the police had probed the prosecution’s second witness, he did not appear as a suspect in any of the cases on their radar.

Hinson also drilled the investigator about why it had taken the police eight months to bring her clients on an identification parade or to charge them.

She first asked the investigator, who started the gang probe in November 2018, why it had taken until July 2019 to have an identification parade for defendant Donavan Richards.

But the police witness said that he was not the one who had arrested her client and did not know how long Richards had been in custody.

Further, he said when he was told that Richards was a member of the gang, he could not serve him immediately with the identification parade documents.

As to defendant Michael Whitely, who was arrested in 2018 and charged in July 2019, the sergeant said that the police were not yet ready for the accused.

Sykes quickly intervened and told the witness that the lawyer’s questions were legitimate as the State has a duty to account for persons in its care.

Additionally, he said in a democratic society, the police cannot arrest persons and have them languishing in custody.

But the witness, in his defence, said that he was not the person who had arrested the defendant.

When asked by the judge why the police had not charged the defendant, the investigator said the lawyer was being dishonest as her client was charged and placed before the court.

He also suggested that the lawyer should tell the court how many habeas corpus applications she had made to have her client freed if he had been in custody for so long.

He, however, later apologised for calling Hinson dishonest, but reasoned that her client may have been in custody for another matter as he could not account for him being in custody before July 19.

Meanwhile, the prosecution was yesterday successful in getting entered into evidence the second of three phones reportedly used by a witness to secretly record conversations between alleged members of the gang.

However, another attempt to get the final phone entered failed after the investigator was unable to retrieve the IMEI number using a dial-up method, which he had testified that he had used as the phone was locked.

But the police sergeant, after examining the phone, told the court that the IMEI number was written on a piece of paper on the back of the device, which he recognised after seeing the final digits, which he said were similar to those he recorded in his notebook.

But the judge said the phone would have to remain being marked for identity only as the witness would need to retrieve the phone’s unique number using the method he had spoken about.

Reputed One Don leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan and 32 other alleged gang members are being tried on an indictment with 25 counts under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act and the Firearms Act.

The gang is a breakaway faction of the Clansman Gang.

The investigator will continue to face more cross-examination when the case resumes today.

tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com