Court could hear controversial phone recordings today
The alleged controversial phone recordings purported to be of conversations between Portland businessman Everton “Beachy Stout” McDonald and Denvalyn “Bubbla” Minott could be played in open court for the seven-member jury at some point today.
A detective constable assigned to the Communications, Forensic and Cybercrime Division (CFCD) was the latest witness to take the stand on Monday in the trial of McDonald and his co-accused Oscar Barnes for the July 20, 2020 murder of McDonald’s second wife Tonia.
The detective constable was involved in the assessment of the phone and alleged call recordings done by Minott.
He will continue giving evidence today, before the way is cleared for the recordings to be played.
“I have been a police officer for 13 years. I have been at CFCD for over nine years. My duties are assessing cybercrime investigations, CCTV footage acquisition, data acquisition, data recovery, data analysis, documentation and reporting on data contained or created by computer devices. Data includes call logs, contacts, SMS messages, application data such as
WhatsApp messages, audio files, documents needed for investigations.
“At CFCD, I have personally analysed and examined cellphones, hard drives from computers, laptops, tablets, SIM cards, compact disks, thumb drives, recording devices and others. I have worked on over 400 cellphones. The purpose of working on the phones was for data extraction, analysis and reporting. I have worked on cellular phones for court purposes, over 200. The nature was to probe videos, call log, phone contacts, application data, pictures, audio, web history, location and other data,” the detective constable shared with the jury and presiding judge Chester Stamp.
Minott, who had confessed to being the contractor in the killing, pointed fingers at McDonald as the man he said hired him and also claimed that Barnes committed the murder. Minott had said that he lured Tonia to Sherwood Forest in Portland where she was killed, but insisted that he did not do the actual killing.
He reached a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to 19 years in prison and agreed to give evidence against McDonald and Barnes.
Minott claimed that McDonald had promised to pay him $3 million if he carried out the hit. He said, though, that after he had no luck in having the businessman honour his end of the deal, he began to secretly record phone conversations he had with McDonald.
Minott’s phone, on which the calls were said to have been recorded, managed to remain secret until the trial started last September, three years after he had allegedly turned the cellphone over to the police.
The lead cop in the case, a detective sergeant, admitted that all evidence regarding the existence of the cellphone was only made public when trial started last year.
Last Friday, a deputy superintendent of police from CFCD, told the trial that six calls had been placed from a cellular phone number attributed to McDonald to Tonia on July 20, 2020.
Minott had claimed during his testimony that he and McDonald communicated several times via cellular phone, before and after the murder.
Minott also claimed in court that when he called McDonald on the phone to tell him the job to kill Tonia was complete, the businessman pretended that he didn’t know who was on the other end of the phone.
Records presented by the deputy superintendent showed that on the night of the murder, Minott placed a phone call from Sherwood Forest to one of the numbers that the police have attributed to McDonald.
The cop laid the groundwork as he tried to show that there was communication between Minott and a number that the police have attributed to McDonald. However, no records exist at either Flow or Digicel with subscriber details that match the businessman’s name or the phone numbers in question. McDonald had told investigators in a statement that he didn’t buy phones for himself.
“There was communication between the number attributed to Mr McDonald and a number attributed to his wife. On July 20, 2020 there were six calls placed by Mr McDonald to Mrs McDonald. The first call was at 8:46 pm and the last was made at 9:43 pm,” the deputy superintendent told the court.
“On July 20 there was communication between Bubbla [Minott] and Tonia. A total of five communication occurred between the two. The first call was 6:38 pm; Bubbla called Tonia. At 7:26 pm the last call was made from Tonia to Bubbla,” the cop said.
Further establishing the foundation before the recordings are played in court, the cop said that between June and August Minott made a total of 14 calls to Tonia, while she called Minott 31 times. From another number, Minott called Tonia five times over the period while she made four calls to him.
As to why Minott and Tonia were communicating so frequently, Minott had told the court previously that McDonald had introduced him to his wife, telling him that she needed to buy a gun to kill the man who had killed her father, and that he was to source the gun for her. Minott also alleged that the businessman told him to get close to Tonia so that the murder could go through smoothly. He also claimed that he followed the instruction to get close to her, so much so that he developed a sexual relationship with her.
The cop told the court that there was a total of 140 calls and other communication from the phone attributed to the accused businessman to Tonia, while Tonia initiated communication 71 times with a number cops attribute to her husband.
Data showed that a number attributed to McDonald communicated with a cellphone belonging to one of his employees. The employee was said to have called McDonald five times over a period while McDonald called the employee 41 times. This employee was one of more than 10 witnesses who have taken the stand in the trial. He testified that he communicated with his boss very often via telephone and that his boss sent him to visit Minott on numerous occasions.
McDonald is being represented by attorneys Earl Hamilton, Ryan Jon-Paul Hamilton, Christopher Townsend, John Jacobs and Courtney Rowe. Representing Oscar Barnes is Earnest Davis and Vincent Wellesley.