'Bolo' bites the dust
Accused Klansman gangster, out on bail, shot dead

The number of defendants in the infamous Klansman gang trial has been further whittled down to 27 after Andre Smith, the sole accused in the matter who was out on bail, was shot dead Wednesday night.

Smith had been on bail from day one of the trial, which began in September last year with 33 alleged members of the notorious St Catherine-based gang. That number, however, was reduced to 28 after five of the accused were freed.

Smith was expected back in court when the matter resumes on September 19 following the adjournment in July.

Smith, otherwise known as Bolo, was answering to charges related to a 2017 double murder and membership of a criminal organisation.

On Thursday, Superintendent Kirk Ricketts, commanding officer for the St Andrew South Police Division, told the Jamaica Observer that Smith was shot about 9:10 pm on Wednesday at the intersection of Hagley Park Road and Keesing Avenue in the Corporate Area. He said the accused gangster was driving a Nissan AD wagon motor car along Hagley Park Road when men travelling on a motorcycle drove up and shot him before driving away. He said Smith succumbed to his wounds at hospital.

The police say they are trying to determine whether the attack which took Smith's life came from his St Catherine community.

"It's early days yet; we are trying to do the victimology. There is information as to who he was, he is originally from the Spanish Town area, so we are coordinating with investigators from the Spanish Town side to see if the attack is originating from St Catherine North. We are exploring all avenues," Superintendent Ricketts told the Observer.

Smith's attorney, Alexander Shaw, who also represents another two accused in the matter, described the murder as "sad". Shaw said it was his understanding that Smith was heading home from work when he was shot.

"It's sad because the young man was pretty much trying to change his life. He got a new job, started working while the case was going on, and pretty much was trying to stay on the straight and narrow road. He was the only one on bail. The case against him was so weak. He was bound to be acquitted," the attorney said.

The Crown, in opening its case in September last year, had said the accused individuals who comprise the "Blackman faction" of the gang under the supposed leadership of Andre "Blackman" Bryan, had various roles in which they acted as "killers, drivers, lookout men or watchmen, gunsmiths, and foot soldiers".

According to the Crown, between 2015 and 2019 the accused carried out a range of murders, conspiracies to murder, extortion and arson throughout St Catherine. 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 the accused, when arraigned at the start of the trial on September 20, 2021, had pleaded "not guilty" to the charges against them. They are charged with offences ranging from being part of a criminal organisation, murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, illegal possession of firearm, to illegal possession of ammunition.

Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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