Sun | Aug 14, 2022

‘It’s a criminal trial, not a game’

Sykes raps immature prosecution, bemoans slow progress in gang case

Published:Tuesday | July 5, 2022 | 12:13 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes accused the prosecution in the Clansman-One Don Gang trial on Monday of being immature after it refused to agree with the defence on information captured in the prisoners' admission book at the Spanish Town Police Station.

The information pertains specifically to the dates for which four of the 28 defendants were admitted into the lock-up as well as dates when they were released.

The lawyers for the quartet – Kalifa Williams, Pete Miller, Tareek James and Donavan Richards – are seeking to prove that their respective clients were in custody at the time when the prosecution is alleging that they had participated in criminal activities with the gang.

The prosecution had also refused to agree to the contents of an eyewitness statement regarding the November 2, 2017 murder of a man called 'Outlaw', which defendants James, Carl Beech, and reputed gang leader Andre 'Blackman' Bryan are accused of facilitating.

As a result of the prosecution's refusal to cooperate, Justice Sykes was forced to accede to the defence's request for five policemen, including two who are on suspension, to be subpoenaed to give evidence in relation to information in the prisoners' admission book.

At the same time, the court was told that the police are having difficulty locating the officers who are on suspension.

Consequently, James' lawyer, Ester Reid, asked the judge to enquire of the prosecution whether it is willing to reconsider its position.

Justice Sykes then asked the Crown if it is prepared to view the documents which were in court and agree with the information where possible.

But a senior prosecutor replied, “My Lord, we are prepared to examine the documents.”

However, the judge was not pleased with his response and remarked, “Here is the thing now, you're at the point now where greater maturity is expected in a criminal litigation.

The fact of the matter it is a criminal trial; it's not a game. It's about truth. It's not about winning, especially from the prosecution,” he added, while noting that they might “win the war but lose the battle”.

The judge then asked the prosecution what was the point of creating unnecessary difficulties if there is no reason to doubt the information recorded.

Furthermore, he asked, “What is the point of examining the document if your mind is closed?”

Earlier in the trial, another attorney, Denise Hinson, informed the judge that the lawyers had made repeated attempts to get the prosecution to agree, but the Crown had declined.

The senior prosecutor then told the judge that the Crown had merely refused out of being cautious as it did not want it to appear as if the Crown was interfering in the defendant's case.

However, the judge, while highlighting that the defence has the same rights to the State's documents as the prosecution, said that it does not appear that the parties have been making the best use of time and resources.

“At this rate, it doesn't seem as if we are going to be finishing the trial in this term,” said a seemingly frustrated Sykes.

The four lawyers, who are only ones left to close their cases, had faced a delay in getting the documents from the police station as well as records from Horizon Adult Remand Centre. They also encountered problems in getting the information entered admitted.

The trial continues today.

tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com