Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Sykes: Supermarket worker’s murder evidence could prove gang’s existence, if accepted

Published:Friday | January 27, 2023 | 1:21 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes on Thursday stated that the evidence given by a former member of the Clansman-One Don Gang about the 2017 murder of a supermarket employee in Chancery Street, St Andrew, if accepted as true, demonstrates the existence of a gang.

The judge said the evidence, if accepted, can also be used to prove membership of the gang.

Two self-confessed former members of the gang had both testified that the alleged leader, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, had ordered the killing of Damaine ‘Doolie’ Forrester and that he was killed by an alleged gang member.

Forrester was reportedly killed on the night of August 17, 2017, because of his alleged affiliation with a faction of the gang, allegedly led by Tesha Miller.

The first witness, who was Bryan’s personal driver and the gang’s banker, testified that planning had taken place at his home with Bryan and the other prosecution witness, whose role was to point out the target and to ensure that he was at work.

According to him, the man was killed by the gang on the second attempt.

Gang’s banker

The other witness, who also confessed to being a driver and a former community don, said Bryan had given instructions for the man to be killed and that he was killed after three attempts.

That witness had testified that the man was his friend and that on each occasion, he was sent to make sure he was at work at the supermarket and to identify him.

The judge was referring specifically to the evidence given by the ex-member, who was the gang’s banker, when he made the observation during his continued summation in the Home Circuit Court on Thursday.

Bryan and defendants Jahzeel Blake, Tomrick Taylor, and Donovan Richards were charged on Count 6 of the indictment for facilitating the commission of Doolie’s murder.

However, the defendants, with the exception of Bryan, were acquitted of the charge during a no-case submission.

But Bryan Sykes further indicated that although the defendants were freed, they are not yet in the clear as the evidence pertaining to the murder, if accepted, can be used to show that they are members of a criminal organisation.

Furthermore, he said that the legislation doesn’t require that an individual be involved in any or every commission of a serious offence to be deemed a member of the criminal organisation.

Pointing to the specific evidence given by the gang’s former banker about the alleged planning, the judge said if that evidence is accepted as credible, that would prove the existence of the gang as the statute defines a gang as being three or more persons who are affiliated in a group or alliance with a common purpose to commit one or more serious offences.

“The purpose, one, at least this purpose, was to kill Doolie, and the statue doesn’t say you have to have one purpose or a dominant purpose as in other statues,” he noted.

“So the point is that once you have these three men in the house, forming an alliance or have formed an alliance, and one of the purposes of that alliance is to commit one or more serious offence, then a criminal organisation exists, even if they just sit down in the house and don’t go anywhere,” he said.

The evidence given by the two witnesses not only differs in terms of the number of attempts but as it relates to the alleged gang members who went on each trip.

But according to the judge, “The fact that you have different persons involved in the two first trips doesn’t mean that they cannot be found to be members of the same criminal organisation if there is evidence that suggests a common root.”

However, despite the inconsistencies, Justices Sykes said it is clear that there was a purpose to kill Doolie.

Turning the spotlight on the two witnesses, the judge said that if the court accepts the gang’s former banker’s evidence, it would show that the other witness downplayed his role as he did not indicate that he was involved with the planning, and further, that his role was very integral as he was sent to ensure the victim was present and to call the killers and point out the target.

At the same time, he said that the evidence, if accepted, would also show that the former banker was guilty of facilitating the commission of a serious offence as his role was to drive the alleged killers to the scene.

Commenting further on the overall evidence by the men, the judge said the evidence suggests that there was proper planning and organisation.

The summation will continue today.