Daddy issues
Court told majority of top-ranking Klansman members had no father figure
Convict Tareek James boards the police truck to take him back to police lock-up after the end of the court's proceedings earlier this year.

TAREEK James O/C "A Mess" or CJ, the convicted top marksman and bodyguard of Andre "Blackman" Bryan, leader of the One Don faction of the St Catherine-based Klansman Gang, could be the poster child representing fatherless members of the criminal outfit.

James, Bryan and Dylon McLean — the man who was said to also guard the alleged gang leader with a gun — are among the convicted mobsters who lawyers on Monday told a sentencing hearing at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston, had no fathers in their lives.

Esther Reid, the attorney representing James, said the 24-year-old, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, "knew his father for one day".

"And the day after he met his father, he was murdered," Reid disclosed during a plea in mitigation address at Monday's sentencing hearing for James and 14 other convicted Klansman members.

She said James, who was initially raised by his mother and stepfather, relocated to live with an aunt after his mother died from an illness.

According to Reid, her client — at the time of the crimes he committed — was "immature". She said residents were of the opinion that he had to swear allegiance to the gang and take part in the activities as to refuse would cost his life and that of his family.

The attorney said community members, in expressing sympathy for James, said he fell victim to forces greater than his ability to resist.

"They do not believe he fell on his own," she told the court. Bryan and James during the trial were pronounced guilty of engineering the murder of an individual called 'Outlaw' in Lauriston, St Catherine, in 2017. The November 2017 murder of Lauriston resident "Outlaw" was allegedly planned by Bryan who gave the order for him to be eliminated.

James' fatherhood experience rivalled that of McLean.

Counsel for McLean, Kamesha Mittoo, said her client suffers from a mental condition which could perhaps be traced back to his father.

According to the attorney, McLean's mother in the social enquiry report (SER) said she had suffered abuse during her pregnancy which might have affected her son. The mother said the father, who did not appreciate her pregnancy, beat her and then abandoned her.

McLean, the court was told, has been treated for mental illness since childhood. The prison facility where he is being held has also placed him on suicide watch, the court was also told.

Mittoo, however, said despite his challenges, McLean was productive and is a certified barber who has training in mechanics. She said her client, who is not beyond rehabilitation, had always been working, and was at one point a chef and a warehouse attendant at another point.

Monday McLean, dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans, snickered upon hearing the details of his mental condition disclosed. Several other convicts looked amused at the disclosure.

The now 27-year-old McLean was approximately 23 years old at the time of his arrest.

Earlier on Monday, a haggard-looking Bryan in an address to the court 'disowned' his absentee father and seemingly questioned whether the senior Bryan was actually his parent.

"Mi nuh call nuh man father," Bryan, who was convicted of being the leader of the notorious Klansman along with several murders in the marathon trial, told the court.

"Mi mother tell me something that mi nuh sure him ah my father," Bryan added.

His attorney, senior jurist Lloyd McFarlane, noted that the SER confirmed that Bryan's father, Trevor Bryan, was not a major part of his son's upbringing, which the elder Bryan reportedly implied was due to a disagreement over his child's religious faith.

"It appears that the father, Mr Trevor Bryan, had wanted Andre to be converted to Rastafarianism and there was a disagreement between the parents based on that," McFarlane told the court.

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.

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, said the accused individuals — which comprise the "Blackman faction" of the gang — 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

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