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Accused continue to deny wrongs as one more freed

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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AN alleged Uchence Wilson gang member, believed to be one of the key henchmen in the criminal organisation, yesterday testified that police officers had beaten and threatened to kill him and his children if he did not tell them where to find the reputed leader.

The accused, Stephenson Bennett, who was reportedly surprised by policemen after he stopped to change a flat tyre while on his way from Clarendon, giving sworn testimony yesterday in his defence, said that he was kicked, tazed and beaten with guns by police officers.

“I had swollen, black and blue eyes, and a whole heap a cut up from the beatings,” said the father of six, who gave his profession as a farmer and construction worker.

Bennett said after the police blocked his car and came out with guns pointing at him he ran into a canefield. Several shots were fired at him.

Eventually, he said, they caught him after he fell and took him halfway out of the field, where he was beaten after they asked for his gun and he denied having any weapon.

The accused said police also asked him for Terrence (Uchence Wilson). He said: “Dem ago kill me and kill me pickney dem if mi nuh tell dem weh Terrence deh.”

According to Bennett, after he was shown a picture of Terrence he recognised him as someone he knew before and complied with instructions from the police officers to call Wilson.

He said after the call was made, the police decided that they were going to drive to Wilson's home using his car. Bennett refuted evidence from one of the investigating officers that he was the one who had suggested going in his car.

He said it was the police who made the suggestion and that he did not lead them to Wilson's home as they already knew the address, and he was forced to go along after being threatened.

He also denied telling them that he was to meet with Wilson that same night.

The witness testified that when they arrived at Wilson's home he heard a 'click' sound after one of officers came out of the car and passed his door. He then heard several shots after Wilson reportedly ran.

Wilson, who completed his evidence yesterday, testified that he was upset at Bennett for bringing the police to his home, and had lied to them about him having two handguns in Clarendon.

“If I could tell a lie pon him and bring dem go shoot him I would a do it, a just because him did inna custody,” Wilson said yesterday.

Bennett, according to two Crown witnesses who were ex-gang members, was a close friend of the alleged deputy leader, Fitzroy Scott, and played a key role as the “cutter” as he was accused of being the one who would cut locks or grilles during robberies.

It is also alleged that he was usually armed with a Beretta pistol, said to be his personal firearm.

But the accused denied knowledge of the gang, being a member or that he was the cutter. He also denied taking part in any of the robberies or having the weapon.

According to him, “I don't even know the name Beretta before [it was mentioned in] court.”

Similarly, when he was asked if he knew what a “matic” is, he quickly replied, “I drive a matic car,” eliciting laughter in the court.

Accused Machel Goulbourne, Michael “Judge” Lamonth, Keron Walters, and Derron “Devin” Taylor, who also took the stand, all denied being members of the gang or taking part in robberies.

Goulbourne insisted that he was a vendor who sold ground provisions and that he never drove for the gang or “cut up” any stolen vehicles.

“If you a talk 'bout food, ground provision, you a talk mi language; a dat mi know bout,” he declared.

Lamont, who gave an unsworn statement from the dock, said he was a farmer and had never been in any form a “gang ting” or involved in any wrongdoing.

He told the court that he had been in custody for more than two years and missed the birth of his firstborn. He claimed the two crown witnesses were telling lies on him to save themselves.

During the trial, the court heard that a cellular phone that had been stolen from a family was found in Lamont's possession.

But Lamont told the court that he had bought the phone from a store in Half-Way-Tree.

Taylor, who was reportedly the main driver for the gang, denied ever taking members to and from robberies.

The accused, who said he is a licensed vendor who sells male and female clothing in downtown Kingston, testified that he is completely clueless about the different robberies that he was accused of being involved in.

Walters, 38, a mechanic, testified that he worked on Scott's car and that was how he came to know him and that they did not have any other interactions outside of him working on his car.

In the meantime, Tashina Baker became the sixth person to be freed in the case.

Baker, Scott's girlfriend, was freed yesterday after Chief Justice Bryan Sykes upheld a no-case submission made by her lawyers Paul Gentles and C J Mitchell.

The trial will resume on Thursday.


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