Convicted ex-soldier in Klansman trial having sleepless nights
Members of the security forces at the back of the Supreme Court in Kingston on Monday during the sentencing exercise for members of the Klansman Gang. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Ex-Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldier Jermaine Robinson who was in March this year found guilty of being a Klansman gang member is up most nights, steeped in regret, while his fellow inmates are dead to the world.

On Tuesday attorney Diandra Bramwell, who along with defence counsel Roxine Smith represented Robinson, in a plea and mitigation address before trial Judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston, said their client has sobered up.

"The situation has taught Mr Robinson so much, while others are sleeping most nights he is up reflecting on his past which better enables him to put himself in a position for a better future ahead," the attorney said.

She told the court that Robinson,"continues to maintain that he is only here because of his association with some of the accused as he grew up in the community and knew and maintained a cordial relationship with a few but he never partook in any criminal activities".

According to Bramwell, the former army man, who was a member of the JDF from August 2015 until 2021, "was exposed to a decent childhood and was on the right path of adding value to society, successfully completed high school and continued down the path of his father, a positive role model, giving back to his country".

"It is quite unfortunate that until now Mr Robinson did not realise that he has to be mindful of the company he keeps. Mr Robinson has basically lost his reputation throughout this whole process and it has affected him, has affected his self-esteem," Bramwell told the court.

"His biggest desire is to be a functional father to his children, both of his children are young as at the time of him being brought into custody his daughter was not yet born and his son was only two years old," she said in pleading for leniency for Robinson.

Tuesday, Robinson clad in full white, sat unmoving, his face inscrutable. The former army man, according to two former gang members turned Crown witnesses, was said to be a member of the security detail for convicted Klansman leader Andre "Blackman" Bryan.

In early November, Witness Number One alleged that Robinson was agitated that the gang was losing ground after its leader was locked up in 2018 and the gang began splintering.

He said the army man had been introduced to him in 2017 by Bryan who said, "A soldier dis ennuh." The witness said he saw Robinson on several other occasions involving the gang and detailed one instance where he said Robinson, who had injured one hand which was placed in a cast, handled an AK47 with the other hand. He claimed that Robinson was often where Bryan was. According to the witness, the last time he saw the army man was at a checkpoint in Spanish Town.

"He told them not to search mi and just let mi through," Witness Number One had testified, adding that Robinson, who was clad in the JDF garb, said, 'Let him through, mi know him'.

He told the court that Robinson then pulled him aside and asked him if he hadn't heard from "the general" and asked for his [the witness's] phone number.

He further told the court that on the day of his visit to the Criminal Investigations Branch, where he gave the police information about the gang, Robinson called him while he was in the presence of the investigators. He said the army man "was asking about Blackman, if I don't hear from him because he want to talk to him because he want to tun up back di ting".

According to the witness, Robinson said, "Di ting come in like a joke ting." This, he said, meant that he "wanted more people to be dead and more killings in the Spanish Town Area".

In other testimony, Witness Number Two, who was the first gang member-turned-Crown-witness to take the stand after the trial began on September 20, had also said Robinson stood guard at his house at nights while Bryan was there. He said during those times, Robinson had a gun in his possession. According to the witness, Robinson had told him that he was a soldier. He, however, admitted that he had never seen Robinson in uniform up to that time.

The sentencing exercise will resume next Monday, October 2 at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston where the trial judge will begin dishing the sentences for the 15 convicts in the long-running matter. He is expected to conclude on Tuesday, October 3, which will close the curtains on the matter which to date is the largest gang trial in the country's history.

The convicted Klansman members to be sentenced alongside James, Bryan and McLean are: Stephanie Cole-Christie, Michael Whitely, Lamar Simpson, Tareek James, Fabian Johnson, Jahzeel Blake, Roel Taylor, Joseph McDermott, Jermaine Robinson, Andrae Golding, Tomrick Taylor, Brian Morris, and Ted Prince.

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 gang and had various roles in which they acted as "killers, drivers, lookout men or watchmen, gunsmiths and foot soldiers.

The 17 who were acquitted over the course of the trial were Jason Brown O/C Citypuss, Marco Miller, Pete Miller, Ricardo Thomas, Carl Beech, Chevroy Evans, Kemar Harrison, Donovan Richards, Dwight Hall, Daniel McKenzie, Kalifa Williams, Kevaughn Green, Damaine Elliston, Rushane Williams, Rivaldo Hylton, Owen Ormsby, and Dwayne Salmon.

One accused, Andre Smith, who was out on bail during the trial, was murdered.

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter

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