Sykes appeals for gang trial court
With no end in sight for the completion of the Clansman-One Don Gang trial, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes lamented Thursday the lack of action from government authorities in establishing a special court for major gang cases.
Noting that the current trial has consumed two courtrooms and one Supreme Court year so far, the seemingly frustrated judge emphasised that it made no sense as other cases, including jury trials, have had to be delayed.
“I have been saying this for the last two years that these cases ought to be taken out and put in a separate purpose-built facility and circumstances, the very nature of this business, but the authorities refuse to budge on that,” he said.
“So here we are, and it’s going to go well into the Easter term, and with all the variables that can happen in a trial, we’re talking about going into the Michaelmas term as well. That is the reality.”
The preparation and collection of evidence, he added, also needs to be addressed. The judge pointed out that the prosecution was still awaiting information.
“If the judges weren’t insisting, I am sure the trial would not have started, because we would hear that we still have things outstanding, and what that would translate into is persons in custody for four years awaiting completion,” Justice Sykes said.
The no-nonsense judge made his comments after senior attorney-at-law Lloyd McFarlane raised objection during the playing of a recording, arguing that he did not know the speakers and could not follow the conversation as some of it had not been captured in the transcript. The audio was also not clear.
The lead lawyer for reputed gang leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan also indicated that the audio had gone over the length that was indicated and that he was not sure when it would end.
The prosecution, in response, indicated that some of the audio recordings had not been transcribed. The court was further told that the witness who had transcribed the audio was in police protection overseas.
The judge was annoyed at not being able to hear the audio and said that it was unacceptable to not have the transcript.
“I like to waste my own time,” he remarked. “I don’t like other people to waste my time.”
The Clansman-One Don Gang trial, which started last September, has focused on the airing of secretly recorded conversations of some alleged members. The recordings were done by a former top-tier member of the gang who is a prosecution witness.
Bryan and 32 other alleged gang members are being tried on a 25-count indictment under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) and the Firearms acts.
The One Don Gang is a breakaway faction of the Clansman Gang.
The trial continues today.