Four acquitted of drug, money laundering charges
MONTEGO BAY, St James — After a three-year-long trial, four businessmen accused of being major players in a drug smuggling and money laundering ring between Jamaica and the United States were acquitted in the St James Parish Court last Thursday.
They are Montego Bay residents Robert Dunbar, Delroy Gayle, and Louis Smith along with United States citizen Melford Daley.
Parish Judge Sandria Wong-Small upheld submissions from their attorneys that the prosecution did not prove its case against the men.
They were represented by attorneys-at-law Martyn Thomas, Hugh Wildman, Oswest Senior-Smith and King’s Counsel Tom Tavares-Finson, respectively.
In September 2019 when the trial began in the St James Parish Court before Judge Wong-Small, Wildman made an application for it to be discontinued on the basis that the charge was illegal because it was brought under the repealed Money Laundering Act of 1998, which was replaced by the Proceeds of Crime Act in May 2007.
But the application was refused and the trial continued.
That same month Wildman then petitioned the Supreme Court for a judicial review, and Justice Courtney Daye granted an order halting the trial until the judicial review was heard.
The Supreme Court’s order came into effect after Christopher Drummond, a key prosecution witness, who is now serving a 27-year prison sentence in the United States for drug smuggling, gave evidence against the four.
In February 2020 the Supreme Court, through presiding High Court Justice Simone Wolfe-Reece, rejected an application made on Smith’s behalf by Wildman in which the defendant sought a declaration from the court that the initiating of criminal proceedings against him was null, void, and of no effect. That decision paved the way for the resumption of the trial proceedings in the St James Parish Court.
On Thursday, the defence argued that what took place in the trial in the US was irrelevant to the law in Jamaica.
Wildman argued that the conviction of the prosecution’s witness, who was convicted in the United States, was inadmissible in law to establish the guilt of any of the accused persons in Jamaica.
He also argued that Drummond’s evidence could not be relied on in law to support the charges against the men.
In her decision to free the men, Judge Wong-Small stated that she accepted Wildman’s submissions.
The allegations against the men are that they were involved in drug trafficking between Jamaica and the United States between 1999 and 2005.