Plea for gangster ‘Mumma’
Alexander Shaw, the attorney representing the sole woman convicted for being a member of the deadly Klansman gang, on Monday painted a picture of her as a rejected wife, a mother pained by her inability to see her teenaged daughter in high school uniform, and a woman still involved in ministering the ‘Gospel’ inside prison.
Making his plea in mitigation before trial judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes during the sentencing exercise for Stephanie Cole-Christie and 14 other convicted gangsters at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston on Monday, Shaw said his client has “somewhat been ostracised”.
Arguing for a light sentence of two to three years for his client, who is otherwise called Mumma, and who already has five other convictions, the attorney declared that Cole-Christie has already been punished, having been rejected by her husband, who “doesn’t want anything to do with her”.
“She has been hearing prison gates closing behind her for the last four years, and I submit that is enough to act as a deterrent… Mrs Christie is 48 years old, she is not a pup… notwithstanding the fact that she is the eldest in the gang, as the evidence unfolded there were instances when she would invite her friends to church. The truth is, there was a constant struggle because, though she was at church, she found herself being part of a negative social group,” he said.
According to Shaw, Cole-Christie has expressed “how depressive it is to be locked away from her young daughter” and has talked about having “suicidal thoughts”.
He said the interviewer who prepared Cole-Christie’s social enquiry report “tried to make contact with her husband who doesn’t want anything to do with her or this court matter”.
He further said Cole-Christie was needed by her ailing mother who is elderly and had been cared for by his client before her incarceration.
He said his client, who was making a meaningful contribution to society as an entrepreneur and community member, is “still involved in ministry, is on the choir and helps in the kitchen [at the remand centre]”.
According to Shaw, his client, from behind the walls of the prison, is still trying to make things better.
In March this year Cole-Christie was found guilty of being a member of the notorious criminal organisation.
Cole-Christie, said to be a top-tier member of the gang, at the time in a fervently delivered unsworn statement had described herself as a “businesswoman and entrepreneur” who is “known by many as a people person”.
She had claimed that her only modus operandi was caring for the elderly and young people by getting them into schools. She told the court that she also spearheaded community sports days and a major get-together which was so recognised it attracted sponsorship from several big-name companies.
However, Witness Number Two, a former gang member turned State witness, had asserted that Cole-Christie was the link between the police force and the gang and was the one to source legal representation whenever a gang member ran afoul of the law. Cole-Christie, it was said, bankrolled legal fees from extortion monies.
Justice Sykes, in convicting the so-called pastor, had referred to recorded conversations which had been entered into evidence, featuring her in conversation with the witness during which she spoke of a corrupt cop who fed her with information. That, Justice Sykes said, was consistent with the evidence of a police witness who said Cole-Christie had tried to bribe him.
On Monday, Cole-Christie — resplendent in a pink flowing outfit, fresh braids framing her small face — sat quietly, her well-made-up face a study in concentration.
The matter resumes today at 10:00 am when the attorneys will continue their plea in mitigation addresses.
The convicted Klansman members, to be sentenced alongside leader Andre “Blackman” Bryan and Cole-Christie are: Michael Whitely, Dylon McLean, Lamar Simpson, Tareek James, Fabian Johnson, Jahzeel Blake, Roel Taylor, Joseph McDermott, Jermaine Robinson, Andrae Golding, Tomrick Taylor, Brian Morris, and Ted Prince.
The Crown, in opening its case on September 20, 2021, said the accused individuals — which comprise the ‘Blackman faction’ of the Klansman gang — had various roles in which they acted as “killers, drivers, lookout men or watchmen, gunsmiths and foot soldiers”.