Crown witness says he turned on gang 'to help Jamaica'

The attorney for Andre “Blackman” Bryan, the accused leader of the feared Klansman gang, yesterday painted the Crown's key witness as a lying desperado who turned prosecution witness to escape facing the music for his own role in the St Catherine-based gang.

Confronting witness two yesterday afternoon after the Crown had wrapped up its evidence in chief from him, attorney Lloyd McFarlane posited that the self-styled “businessman” who had been freed of the charges against him for being part of a criminal organisation when arrested in 2018 with other gang members, had offered evidence against them in order to have the case against him dismissed.

That assertion, however, was hotly rejected by the witness who maintained that his decision to testify was because he “wanted to help Jamaica”.

“You gave statements to the police in January 2020. Were you doing it so that your case would be dismissed?” McFarlane pressed.

“No, Sir,” replied the witness, who first took the stand in September.

“Why were you?' McFarlane quizzed.

“Because I didn't want to waste the court's time,” the witness replied.

Asked whether he knew that by implicating Bryan in his statements it would help him, the witness said he had no vendetta against Bryan, pointing out that he had spoken about all the gang members.

Thirty-two men and a woman are before the court facing various charges under Jamaica's anti-gang legislation and the Firearms Act.

Under further questioning from McFarlane, who insisted that his motive for testifying against the gang members was purely selfish, the witness said, “I was only doing the right thing, Sir”.

“For yourself,” McFarlane shot back, to which the witness replied, “For everybody in the country, for all of Spanish Town”.

McFarlane further took the witness to task over his indications to the court that Bryan had issued orders to other gang members to kill several individuals, which were carried out.

“I suggest to you, Blackman gave none of those orders to kill those people… all those stories you have told are not true,” McFarlane said, going on to also put question marks on aspects of the witness's testimony relating to the collection of extortion money by the supposed gangsters in Spanish Town.

“All of them are true, Sir,” the witness maintained.

Taken to task by McFarlane over aspects of his testimony that the lawyer said were not in sync with statements he had given to the police in 2020, the witness insisted that he had not lied but had only been nervous as that was his first time giving a statement to the police.

Said McFarlane, “You are a liar, and sometimes your lies catch up with you.”

“I am no liar, Sir… don't say lawyers don't tell lies too, Sir,” the witness sassed back.

“Don't bring lawyers into it,” McFarlane thundered.

“I don't tell lies,” the witness stated, making an allowance that his memory might have lapsed in some instances. He, however, maintained that he had not lied under oath but had simply gone into more detail with his testimony than in his statement to the police.

“I came here and I swear on the Bible to tell the truth, as I said I was nervous talking to the police for the first time… I never went down into details,” the witness said, noting that he had not mentioned some aspects referred to by McFarlane from his statement because he “wasn't asked”.

“Mr (name redacted), I am putting it to you that the accounts you have given about all these incidents are not true… I am suggesting to you that you have lied about Andre Blackman Bryan giving all these different instructions, and so on, because you were doing it to save yourself,” McFarlane ended.

“All the incidents I have given are true, Sir. I went down into details and said exactly what happened, Sir… I don't tell no lie on Andre Bryan, Sir. Andre Bryan is the leader of the gang,” insisted the witness, who yesterday told the court that he [the witness] was from an upscale community with some of the best neighbours and powerful people.

All 33 accused, who are being tried under an indictment containing 25 counts, when arraigned on September 20 at the start of the trial, 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.

Witness number two, who is one of two key witnesses among 42 that the prosecution intends to call, has been testifying in courtroom number one of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston before Chief Justice Bryan Sykes.

He has claimed to be the gang's banker and Bryan's personal driver, among other things. All monies collected, he claimed, were stashed in his refrigerator at his swanky home and was used to “buy gun and gunshot, and pay lawyer fee” as well as for food, payment for rental cars, and to give to members of the gang who made their requests for funds through Bryan. 

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