Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Sykes: ‘Blackman’ was force behind reign of terror

Judge pours scorn on crony’s new-found remorse as 6 sentenced in gang trial

Published:Tuesday | October 3, 2023 | 12:11 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, in sentencing convicted gang leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan on Monday to 39 years and six months in prison, said it was clear from the evidence that he was the “prime mover and shaker” behind all the gang’s killings.

The judge noted that the evidence presented showed that no major incidents – “certainly no murder, shootings or arson” – took place without Bryan’s approval and planning.

Additionally, he said there was no hesitation on the part of the gangsters to use violence to further the ends of the criminal organisation.

Bryan was found to be the leader of the One Don Gang, a splinter of the Clansman Gang.

The judge further noted that the members were aware that they were participating in a gang and did nothing to suggest that they wanted to leave the gang or turn their life around.

The day’s sentencing exercise started out with Bryan, who briefly delayed the proceedings after he indicated, through his lawyer, that he had a medical issue.

The 38-year-old musician, who was earlier observed pumping and clutching his chest and appeared to be experiencing some discomfort, was removed from the dock but returned soon after.

Bryan, who last week publicly admitted to being the leader, was given 21 years and six months for leadership of a criminal organisation. He was also sentenced to 11 and a half years each for facilitating the commission of murder and arson in relation to the shooting death of a couple in Fisheries, St Catherine.

He was also slapped with 10 and 12 years, respectively, for facilitating the commission of conspiracy of murder and murder by a criminal organisation in connection with the shooting death of a man called ‘Outlaw’.

The judge also sentenced the gang leader to six and a half years for facilitating the gang’s commission of murder in relation to the killing of ‘Doolie’ on Chancery Street in St Andrew, and another six and a half years for facilitating the murder of a Rastafarian man, and four and a half years for the murder of an unknown person.

Justice Sykes ruled that the sentences for the leadership and for Outlaw’s murder are to run consecutively, while the others are to run at the same time as the prisoner term for leading the gang.

The judge underscored that it was important for some of the sentences to run consecutively to reflect the scope, scale, and extent of the offences. Additionally, he said the sentence must be of such that it can act as a deterrence to others who may want to trod a similar path.

Bryan’s sentences were all reduced by five and a half years for time spent in custody since before his trial, starting in September 2021.

Bryan’s cousin, Tomrick Taylor, was also sentenced to nine years and six months for being a member of the gang.

Taylor had admitted belatedly in his social enquiry report that he was a member and that he regretted his action. His lawyer Kimani Brydson had submitted that his admission showed that he was remorseful and asked that he be shown leniency.

But the judge said he was not convinced that Taylor was genuinely remorseful and described his newfound remorse as a tactic aim at securing leniency.

“Sorry to disappoint you, Mr Taylor. That simply won’t work,” the judge said.

Four other convicts – Michael Whitely, Brian Morris, Dylon McLean and Lamar Simpson – were also sentenced yesterday.

Whitely, a 25-year-old chef, was sentenced to 16 years for being a member and for his role in the murder of a Rastaman in Jones Avenue, St Catherine.

Morris, who was the lead shooter in that same incident, was sentenced to of 18 months and six months, respectively, for being a member and for his role in the shooting.

McLean, who was among a group of gangsters armed with Molotov cocktails and guns before the killing of the couple and torching of their house at Fisheries, St Catherine, was ordered to serve seven years and three months for being part of a criminal organisation and two counts of facilitating the commission of a serious offence by such an organisation

Simpson was sentenced to one year and six months for being a member of a criminal organisation. The judge found that on the evidence he was only involved in an unsuccessful search for a murder target and had good social enquiry and community reports.

The judge will complete the sentencing for Stephanie Cole-Christie when the matter resumes today in the Home Circuit Court.

Nine convicts are left to be sentenced.

Thirty-three defendants were initially hauled before the court, 17 were freed and one was killed.