Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Sykes: Evidence from failed counts could still influence verdict

Published:Thursday | January 26, 2023 | 12:48 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes says evidence presented in the Clansman-One Don Gang trial on counts that failed will be considered in the determination of the existence of a criminal organisation and its membership.

Continuing his summation on Wednesday in the Home Circuit Court, the judge also indicated that evidence given by the two ex-gang members on alleged incidents that are not on the indictment will also be given consideration, and if accepted, will be used to establish whether the gang existed and who were its members.

At the start of the trial in September 2021, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan and 32 other defendants were charged on a 25-count indictment under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act and the Firearms Act. However, 11 counts fell during the no-case submissions. Additionally, five defendants were freed and another, Andre Smith, was killed last August.

During the trial, one of the two self-confessed former gangsters testified that Bryan, the alleged leader, and other defendants, were a part of an entourage that went to Ewarton, St Catherine, in 2018 to kill a man known as ‘Ice’.

However, he said that the group did not find the target despite searching diligently for him at parties and bars.

But that count, which saw Bryan and other defendants charged for facilitating a murder conspiracy, failed after the judge upheld a no-case submission.

In reviewing that aspect of evidence on Wednesday, Justice Sykes noted that although he had upheld a no-case submission on technical and legal points, he is “of the view that it has other uses and it can be used to determine whether a criminal organisation exists”.

Similarly, he said evidence given by the witness, Bryan’s personal driver and the gang’s banker, about an arson attack at a financial institution in St Catherine and a shooting incident in Fisheries community, where the wrong person was allegedly shot, though not on the indictment, will also be considered.

In the alleged arson incident, the trial heard that Bryan and defendant Jason Brown, the alleged deputy leader, had orchestrated the attack because the owner had refused to pay extortion monies.

In the alleged shooting incident, the witness said that Bryan and five other alleged gangsters had planned the murder of three men and that he and defendant Jahzeal Blake were sent to scout the area for the targets.

According to the witness, the targets were seen, but defendant Ted Prince, who was allegedly sent to do the killing, had missed and injured someone else. This, he claimed, had left Bryan hopping mad.

Justice Sykes said that such evidence, if accepted, can be used to establish that Bryan was the leader or that he played an integral role in its leadership.

At the same time, the judge said that that bit of evidence, as it pertains to Brown, had not met the required legal standard as the witness had failed to identify him.

The judge said that although the dock identification had failed and the next rational option would have been a voice identification, given that the witness had testified that he had spoken to Brown several times and at length, the prosecution did not use that means.

In his summation, the judge reiterated that the Crown had sought to prove its case by relying on the commission of serious offences by affiliated persons over a period .

A criminal organisation, he said, by the statute’s definition, is where three or more persons who are affiliated come together for the purpose of committing one or more serious offences.

“There is no legal necessity for them to kill anyone or carry out the offence. So if you have three or more and you establish that they are in this group or alliance, and they have as their purpose the commission of one or more serious offences, that’s it. A criminal organisation exists.

“One does not have to wait for them to demonstrate by actually carrying out the crime. Carrying out the crime only makes the evidence stronger, but there is no legal necessity for them to actually kill anyone before you can say a criminal organisation exists,” he said on Tuesday.

The judge will continue his summation today.