Mon | Dec 11, 2023

Clansman Gang Trial | Convicted gang leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan uses scriptures to proclaim innocence

Published:Monday | September 25, 2023 | 1:13 PM
The sentencing hearing is being heard in the Home Circuit Court.

Convicted leader of the One Don Gang Andre 'Blackman' Bryan this morning quoted bible scriptures from Psalms and Isaiah as he proclaimed his innocence and argued that the two ex-gangsters who testified against him lied.

"Time is now, the truth shall be known," said Bryan, who was convicted of being the leader of a criminal organization and seven counts of facilitating the commission of a serious offence by a criminal organization.

The sentencing hearing is being heard in the Home Circuit Court.

The 38-year-old musician, sporting short dreadlocks, had insisted on speaking on his behalf despite objection from his lawyer, Lloyd McFarlane.

"The pictures that the two witnesses painted is a blunt lie," he said.

Bryan, along with quoting scriptures, also highlighted Jamaica's motto, noting that "you cannot use one with people."

Bryan, who described himself as being conscious despite his academic deficiencies, stressed that people can say anything loosely.

Blackman's was, however, asked by the presiding judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes to delay his speech given that he had a lot to say and to resume later.

He complied.

Meanwhile, McFarlane, in his plea mitigation, asked that the court order that his client's sentences run concurrent and not consecutive.

The charge of leadership of a criminal organization attracts a maximum sentence of 30 years while membership and facilitating both have a maximum of 20 years.

The judge also has the power under the anti-gang legislation to order at least two consecutive sentences.

The lawyer also asked the judge, in passing the sentence on the facilitating offence, to rule in a manner that it does not exceed 30 years.

McFarlane further urged the court to bear in mind that his client has no previous conviction and that he strongly maintains his innocence.

Additionally, he asked that his client be credited for the five and a half years that he has already spent in custody.

In the same vein, the lawyer pointing to Bryan's community report noted that it was mixed as some persons want him to remain in prison while others are not opposed to him returning to the community if he is reformed.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Michael Whitely and Tomrick Taylor, who were convicted of being a member of a criminal organization, argued that they are not beyond rehabilitation.

Attorney Kimani Brydson, who is representing Taylor, submitted that this was his client's first conviction and gang conviction, which should be accepted as a mitigating factor.

Noting that his client was raised single-handedly by his mother and was influenced by violence and gang activities in his community, the lawyer urged the judge not to use the sentence as a means of retribution or prevention as Taylor is a suitable candidate for leniency.

And attorney Kamisha Mittoo, speaking on Whitely's behalf, expressed that he is not beyond redemption and has suffered loss.

She asked the judge to take into account that he did not have a father figure in his life.

Additionally, the lawyer requested that the judge start at 10 years when calculating his sentence and credit him for the five years and five months that he has spent in custody.

Attorney-at-law Keith Bishop, in begging leniency for Lamar Simpson, asked the judge to consider that he developed tuberculosis in prison and that prison conditions would not be conducive to his health.

The lawyer, who also quoted bible scriptures, cited that Jamaica is a Christian society and asked that forgiveness be shown to his client.

The 34-year-old father of two was also convicted of being a part of a criminal organization.

Bishop also asked that his client be credited for the four years and six months that he has already spent in custody.

- Tanesha Mundle

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