Witness tells of King Valley Gang's revenge rapes

Witness tells of King Valley Gang's revenge rapes

Senior staff reporter

Friday, January 17, 2020

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THE star prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of eight alleged members of the Westmoreland- based King Valley Gang or Lawless Gang, in a highly controversial testimony, yesterday confessed to being involved in revenge gang rapes.

In these incidents, the witness, who is a former member of the gang, said females linked to individuals with whom the alleged gangsters were feuding were raped at gunpoint and threatened with death.

The witness began testifying via live video link from a remote location on Tuesday. When asked to outline the offences committed by the gang, the witness listed shooting, robbery, scamming, and hitman work.

When asked to state what other offences there were, the witness, who cannot be named by order of the court, said: “Rapes, Ma'am”.

In admitting involvement in “more than one”, the individual detailed for the court participating in the rape of a female in 2015 at Top Lincoln in Grange Hill, Westmoreland.

“It took place one night at Top Lincoln, there was an incident between Ika (an acquaintance) and one of my friend, and after that Ika sent threat to me. We decide seh wi ago grab him sister and wi ago rob her, so we went there that night… We were at an abandoned house and we were waiting until she close her shop,” the witness told the court.

“We went on the lane that she lives and we grab her, we bring her in a little path in the same district that she lived, and Lazarus had sex with her and also me,” the court heard.

“She wasn't agreeing but we forced her, we threaten to kill her,” the individual testified, adding when probed that he was the one who threatened the female with death and admitting that a gun was pointed at the woman while the act was committed.

The court also heard that three of the individuals that night were armed with guns while one carried a machete.

Following the rape of the female by two of them, the court was told that the men then robbed the woman of her phone and the money she made that night, before robbing her male friend of $11,000.

The men also robbed her shop of liquor before releasing her. Her male friend, who had been held at gunpoint, was released afterwards. The witness also detailed another incident at Salmon Street, Top Lincoln.

This time, the female they held onto was with a man identified as 'Kangol' by the witness, who said the gang's leader Tito wanted to kill him because he was a friend of an individual named 'Nalaugh'.

The informant said that the now deceased leader of the gang, Tito, had wanted 'Nalaugh' killed because he felt he had disrespected him by saying he, Tito, “was no bad man”.

“So Tito say him and him cyaan live inna di same world, so one night we went to Herring Piece to kill Nalaugh. We went to his brother's house, no one was home so we kick off the door and went inside and search the house and we didn't find anything… We set the house on fire,” the prosecution witness said, adding that they then went to Nalaugh's mother's house in the community to continue the search for him.

While keeping watch with another gang member in the event the police came along, the witness said the other individuals went to the house where they murdered an individual.

The witness said on the night in question, when the gang members ambushed Kangol, who had the female on his motorbike, they herded her behind an unfinished building and “let go the youth called Kangol”.

“Tommy (alleged gang member) call Tito and tell him seh wi jook down somebody and wi have a girl, him seh him a forward… Wi bring di girl over di next side… and Lazarus had sex wid har, me also had sex wid har, and Tito also had sex wid har,” the informant said, adding that Tito was angry that they had “let the guy go”.

He also told the court that the gang leader had sex with the “crying” female while she was “bent over and turned backward”.

This admission drew an objection from defence lawyers, who stated that the line of questioning by the Crown was eliciting admissions of rape which was not the offence stated on the indictment and was therefore irrelevant and prejudicial to the clients named.

The prosecution, however, argued that it had opted to err on the side of caution by classifying the offence as indecent assault on the indictment, given that it had no evidence or testimony from a claimant in relation to rape, and had therefore chosen to document what was a lesser offence to lessen the possibility of having its case challenged on that point.

Justice Bryan Sykes, however, pointed out that the witness had detailed participating in what amounted to a rape, irrespective of whether or not there was a complaint from a victim to testify to being raped.

He further pointed out that it was clear from the details provided by the witness, who was also a participant, that the act was not consensual, and as such was at a loss as to why the prosecution had chosen to say “indecent assault” on the indictment instead of rape.

The prosecutors argued, to no avail, that while they had had no doubt as to whether the act was in fact rape, the concern had been whether it would have been able to sufficiently prove it and convince the court, as they had experienced similar cases wherein judges had not been in agreement that a rape had been committed based on second-hand testimonies.

Said Justice Sykes: “Based on the circumstances, it cannot be questioned whether or not a rape had taken place, there is nothing that suggests this is a consensual act.”

This was the second such objection being raised by the defence lawyers. In the initial instance, Justice Sykes, in addressing the matter, told prosecutors, “You have to remember that a criminal trial is a practical exercise, time is not infinite so when disclosure is made, the indictment served by the Crown is saying to the defence this is how we intend to go about the matter.

The content of the indictment is a further indication of the areas of focus. What that means, from the defence's standpoint, is that when there is interface between counsel and client, the focus is going to be largely on what the terms of the indictment are.”

The defence had raised objections after the witness continued his testimony detailing rapes he said were committed by himself and other members of the gang, arguing that the year in which the witness said the rapes were committed had not been included on the indictment presented by the prosecution, and as such prejudiced their clients unfairly and should not be allowed.

The prosecution, in rebuttal, cited case law which it said proved that the date was not material and should not prevent the evidence being given.

Following a nearly two-hour adjournment requested by defence lawyers, the trial resumed with defence lawyers deciding to withdraw that objection.

The prosecution earlier that morning had made an application to have counts seven, eight and nine of the indictment amended to specifically reflect the locations the offences were alleged to have occurred by the stated defendants.

Three of the men, as a consequence, were re-pleaded; all maintained their 'not guilty plea' as originally entered on Tuesday.

The eight men — Carlington Godfrey, Lindell Powell, Rannaldo McKennis, Derval Williams, Hopeton Sankey, Christon Grant, Copeland Sankey, and Sean Suckra — are charged in an indictment containing 11 counts and are accused of conspiring to commit murder, indecent assault and robberies with aggravation from as early as 2013.

The trial resumes today at the Supreme Court.

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