Sloppy start to One Don Gang trial

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 19, 2019

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ONLY 10 of the 24 alleged members of the One Don Gang who were busted officially appeared in the Supreme Court yesterday due to a lack of preparedness, which forced the presiding judge to retire to his “salubrious” chambers twice.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey reported that the police had dismantled another gang that was an offshoot of the Klansman Gang, and that 33 people were arrested and another 30 were being pursued.

However, he reported that only 24 had been charged with facilitating a serious criminal offence, conspiracy to commit murder, and being part of a criminal organisation, and that they were to appear in court yesterday. The remaining individuals are to face identification parades.

But when the matter was mentioned yesterday, only 17 of the 24 accused were brought into the courtroom and, according to the prosecutor, this was due to logistics challenges.

The prosecutor, after explaining the reason for the absence of the other accused, was then asked by Justice Leighton Pusey for the documents on which the Crown was proceeding in the matters, including the Number One document on which the charge against each accused is recorded. However, no documents were forthcoming.

“The court cannot have jurisdiction without a file or even a jotting,” the judge said.

The judge subsequently instructed the prosecutors to sort out the matter, giving them 15 minutes before indicating that he would, in the meantime, wait in his “salubrious” chambers.

On resumption, a voluntary bill was produced.

But the judge, after looking at it, said: “It has 10 persons on the bill, is only 10 people in the dock?”

It was then revealed that the other seven accused were not accounted for on the bill. The seven unlisted accused were then taken from the courtroom and returned to the holding area. Among those who were escorted from the room was reputed gang leader Andre “Blackman” Bryan.

When the matter got back on track, it was pointed out by the prosecutor that there was a mix-up with the name of one of the accused, resulting in him not being brought, so there were only nine accused before the court and the other person was down in the holding area.

He was, however, quickly brought into court and the matter got under way.

Justice Pusey, who by this was not amused, noted that while the court is powerful, it has no jurisdiction without documents.

“If we are bringing persons before the court, the correct procedure must be followed,” he said.

At the same time, Justice Pusey told the prosecutor that while he was not pleased with how the case was being dealt with, he was not being difficult, but rather cooperative.

He further explained that without the documents the court does not have the power to command the accused before the court via summons or other means. Also, he said the court cannot proceed without knowing what charges the accused are facing.

During the proceedings, legal representation was settled, with some attorneys indicating their intention to apply for bail on the next court date, scheduled for July 30, but that they had not yet been served with documents.

The prosecutor, however, indicated that the files were incomplete and a few statements were outstanding. When pressed for the actual number of outstanding statements, the prosecutor said 16.

“In what world are 16 a few?” the judge remarked.

In the end, a decision was made by the Crown for disclosure to be done electronically by next Monday. The prosecutor also promised to have the matter sorted out with the other accused, and for them to be properly brought before the court on the next date, while the others were remanded.

The alleged gangsters, including one woman, are among 33 people arrested during recent police raids, and are accused of being responsible for more than 30 murders, including the death of a policeman. The alleged gangsters, who are accused of committing shootings and extortion in the St Catherine North Division, reportedly earn $57 million from extortion annually.


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