76 years
Six of 15 Klansman gangsters sentenced, remaining 9 to know punishment today
Klansman gang leader Andre "Blackman" Bryan (left) and fellow convict Jermaine Robinson cover their faces on leaving the Supreme Court, downtown Kingston, in March this year.

The infamous Klansman gang operated with "a culture of impunity" under the leadership of a man who had no qualms about "killing again and again and again", trial judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes said on Monday as he handed down a combined 76 years' prison sentences to six of the 15 convicted.

However, Dylon McLean, one of the six, ahead of being carted off to serve his seven years and three months for the offences of being part of a criminal organisation and two counts of facilitating the commission of a serious offence by a criminal organisa tion, was overheard scoffing at the assertions of the trial judge.

"These shackles can't hold mi; mi still young enuh," the 27-year-old McLean, who is said to be suffering from a mental condition and has been placed on suicide watch, declared disdainfully to no one in particular during one of several court breaks. When prompted to repeat his words McLean did so without hesitation before clamming up.

The remaining nine convicts should all be handed their sentences today.

Justice Sykes, during his sentencing address, said based on the evidence disclosed in the case the convicts would have continued with their "criminal conduct" outside of their arrests and his decision to impose custodial sentences stemmed from the fact that there was nothing to indicate that the individuals had any intention to abandon a life of crime.

In sentencing convicted gang leader Andre "Blackman" Bryan to 39 and a half years behind bars, the chief justice said the 38-year-old Bryan — who was convicted for leadership of the criminal gang and seven other counts which involved facilitating serious offences such as murder and arson between 2015 and 2019 — was the "prime mover and architect" responsible for at least five deaths that resulted from shootings and arson ordered by him.

"The cumulative evidence of the indicted counts as well as the unindicted clearly shows that Mr Bryan was the leader of the organisation," Justice Sykes said.

Noting that killings were, in instances, carried out in daylight, the trial judge, in referencing an attack in the Fisheries area of St Catherine said, "There was no evidence anyone was wearing a mask. It is a culture of impunity. I can shoot anywhere, anytime, day or night it doesn't matter."

In assessing Bryan's role as leader of the gang, the chief justice said, "The evidence showed that Bryan did not intend to give up his life of crime."

Bryan, during that pronouncement, doubled over, grasping his stomach before sitting back up. The Klansman leader, who would have been first to be sentenced, based on the fact that he was named first on the indictment, ended up being sentenced second after he complained of physical discomfort and was removed from the courtroom for several minutes.

Justice Sykes, in pointing out that violence was a consistent part of how the gang conducted its affairs, said, "The sentence now has to disable Mr Bryan from being able to conduct this kind of activity for an extended period of time.

"What the evidence shows is that Mr Bryan was a man of extreme violence who was not afraid of having people killed again and again and again," the trial judge declared.

Justice Sykes, in handing down the 39 and a half years sentence to Bryan, said it was clear that the acts were "premeditated and preplanned".

Bryan, clad in a slate grey shirt and slate grey striped pants, for most of the hearing held his head down. Following his sentencing he walked from the dock without a backward look, his face expressionless.

Along with Bryan and McLean, convicted gangsters Tomrick Taylor, Michael Whitely, Brian Morris, and Lamar Simpson were sentenced to nine-and-a-half years, 16 years, 18 years and six months, and one year and six months, respectively.

When the matter resumes today the remaining convicts, namely Stephanie "Mumma" Cole Christie, Ted Prince, Jahzeel Blake, Andrae Golding, Tareek James, Joseph McDermott, Fabian Johnson, Roel Taylor, and Jermaine Robinson are expected to receive their sentences.

The convicted gangsters were all tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act 2014. The Act, in the Second Schedule, indicates that, in relation to a conviction on indictment in a Circuit Court for the offence of leadership, management or direction of a criminal organisation, the sentence is to be imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 years. For a conviction in relation to membership of a criminal organisation, the schedule provides that, for a first offence, imprisonment should be for a term not exceeding 20 years. There is no mandatory minimum sentence in relation to either of the offences.

The Crown, in opening its case on September 20, 2021 with an initial 33 accused on trial, had said the individuals comprised the "Blackman faction" of the St Catherine-based gang and had various roles in which they acted as killers, drivers, lookout men or watchmen, gunsmiths, and foot soldiers.

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

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