'Every time it drive out is either a shooting or murder,' witness testifies in Klansman trialTuesday, September 28, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
The ultimate reprisal of the ruthless Klansman gang against a defiant Spanish Town bus driver who they say was causing them not to collect “the right amount of extortion money” was to send an assassin dressed in school uniform aboard the gang's “duppy truck” to “mash him up” in the busy park.
That “duppy truck” was a stolen grey Nissan Tiida bought from criminals in Lauriston, St Catherine, which had been given that moniker “because every time it drive out is either a shooting or murder”.
The instance was one of several alleged murders carried out by the gang under the instructions of its supposed leader Andre “Blackman” Bryan, according to a self-confessed gang member turned Crown witness who has been testifying in the trial of 33 alleged members of gang in the Supreme Court since last Monday.
According to the witness, who has been testifying from an undisclosed location, the November 15, 2017 murder was supposedly ordered after two alleged gang members, identified as “Cubby” and “Mackerel”, complained to Bryan that “is dis busman mek dem nah collect the right amount of extortion money”.
He said the men further complained to Bryan that the marked bus driver “a encourage di res' a busman not to pay extortion”.
Information disclosed at the start of the trial last week was that between $80,000 and $100,000 was collected daily in extortion money from the section of the bus park controlled by Bryan.
Yesterday, the witness said, after receiving the complaint, the plot to kill the busman was hatched with Mackerel suggesting that the assassin, hand-picked by Bryan and who was identified as the accused Tareek James, otherwise called CJ, be made “to wear a school uniform”. According to the witness, Mackerel explained that he would “blend in as a schoolboy”.
The witness claimed that Bryan approved of the disguise, saying it was “a good idea”. He said the following morning Bryan called him and ordered him to pick up a gang member and told him to tell another individual “to get the duppy truck ready”.
According to the witness, who has testified that he was the getaway driver for the gang in several instances, this time he was not the one to drive the assassins to that scene. He however said upon reaching his house he saw CJ “wearing his khaki uniform”, while his sidekick, called “Terror”, was wearing regular clothes. The witness said CJ, who was armed with a 45 (pistol), left for the bus park with two others, including Terror. He said “the plan” included picking up another weapon for an individual called “Sick Head”, who would be assisting with the killing.
According to the witness, following the shooting he drove to Rivoli in Spanish Town where he picked up CJ and Terror. He told the court that while taking CJ back with him to his house, CJ told him “how him shoot dat busman in front of a police”.
The next time he met CJ, the court was told, was when they were both behind bars.
In the aftermath of the murder referenced by the Crown witness, the police, in a Jamaica Observer news report dated November 24, 2017, had urged students using the Spanish Town bus park to ensure that they were properly attired in their respective school uniforms.
The police, in an interview with the Observer at the time, said the appeal was on the basis that the suspects in the killing of the bus driver, who they identified as Ervin McLeggan, had been dressed in khaki. The driver was not identified by name in the trial.
In the meantime, the witness also detailed for the court the murder of “a yute in Thompson Pen, Old Road”, St Catherine who Bryan supposedly ordered killed, telling his henchmen to “mash up a work”. According to the witness, these words were used by Bryan to indicate that he wanted “to shoot up someone or kill someone”.
He said he drove three men to the lane where that killing was to take place and left them and returned home. He told the court that shortly after returning home he received a call from Bryan telling him to report to the gang's Jones Avenue headquarters. He said that when he got there one of the men reported to Bryan that he “shot di bwoy offa di wall an' tek a gun off him”. He said following that meeting he took Bryan to his Shortwood Road apartment in the Corporate Area and returned to his house.
Witness number two, who took the stand for the first-time last Wednesday, is the first witness to be called for the Crown. He has testified that he was the banker for the gang. All monies collected, he claimed, were stashed in his refrigerator and used to “buy gun and gunshot, and pay lawyer fee” as well as buy food, pay for rental cars and to give to members of the gang who made their requests for funds through Bryan.
The case, which includes the largest number of accused ever to be tried together in a single matter, is being handled by 40 attorneys. The accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) (Amendment) Act, commonly called the anti-gang legislation with several facing additional charges under the Firearms Act for crimes allegedly committed between 2015 and 2019. All 33 accused, who are being tried under an indictment containing 25 counts, when arraigned, pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them.
The offences for which they are being charged include being part of a criminal organisation, murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, illegal possession of firearm, and illegal possession of ammunition. Bryan is charged with, among other things, being the leader of a criminal organisation — Klansman/One Don gang.
In 2019, Tesha Miller, leader of the other faction of the gang, was convicted for orchestrating the 2008 murder of then Jamaica Urban Transit Company Chairman Douglas Chambers. Blackman, the alleged hitman then, was acquitted of the killing in 2016.
Police say the splintered gang, which has a membership of around 400, has wreaked havoc in the parish of St Catherine and has connections in neighbouring islands and elsewhere overseas.
The witness is expected to continue his testimony when the trial resumes this morning at 10:00.