Accused Westmoreland gangster freed in court

Accused Westmoreland gangster freed in court

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – One of the nine accused in the case against the King Valley Gang or Lawless Gang in Westmoreland, now being tried in the Home Circuit Court, this morning walked free after the prosecution indicated it had no evidence in respect of the two counts for which he was charged and brought before the courts.

Ricky Hall, otherwise called 'Bad Wata' of Peggy Barry, was charged with being part of a criminal organisation, facilitating the commission of various offences by a criminal organisation and knowingly providing a benefit to a criminal organisation under the Criminal Justice Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act following a joint police/military operation at Kings Valley in the parish in October of 2018.

This morning, a senior prosecutor in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions leading the evidence in the case informed Chief Justice Bryan Sykes moments before the trial began that "the crown had no evidence against Hall in respect of counts ten and three". The Chief Justice then told Hall that he was free to go.

"The prosecution is saying they are not proceeding with the case against you in respect of counts three and ten, these are the two counts on which you were charged, you are acquitted of those charges and you are free to go," Justices Sykes informed Hall.

Hall's attorney who rose to speak briefly in noting his gratitude said the accused had been in custody "all this time despite my efforts to the contrary". Hall leaving the docks was observed shaking hands with one of the other accused before exiting.

Some 13 witnesses are expected to testify in the trial of the alleged gang members with no more than ten entering the witness box.

The remaining men are charged in an indictment containing 11 counts and are accused of facilitating serious offenses, conspiring to commit murder, rape, indecent assault and robberies with aggravation from as early as 2013. The men, from a meeting place in the Kings Valley community, would plan missions and distribute spoils. The court was told that their modus operandi was larceny of motorbikes which would then be sold to unsuspecting people.

This morning as the trial got underway the court heard testimony via live videolink from a key witness in the case detailing the operations of the gang. The trial continues at two o'clock this afternoon.

Alicia Willis

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