CONVICTED Klansman gangster Tomrick Taylor, who in June last year chose to "remain silent" while his co-accused made passionate statements denying their involvement in the criminal organisation, had recanted in an interview with probation officers but, according to Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, it was too late.
Taylor, alias Fancy Ras, who was convicted for membership of a criminal organisation, was linked by the two main Crown witnesses as one of those responsible for a 2017 hit on a man known as Doolie at Price Rite supermarket in St Andrew.
The Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act 2014 defines a criminal organisation as any gang, group, alliance or network combination or any arrangement among three or more people — whether formally or informally — that has as its purpose the commission of one or more serious offences, among other things. The maximum sentence for the offence is 20 years.
Taylor's sentence from a starting point of 17 years was reduced to just over nine years due to the fact that he had served five years behind bars awaiting trial. He was discounted a further two years because he had no previous convictions.
Justice Sykes, in sentencing Taylor to nine and a half years during Monday's hearing at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston said, "The evidence suggests that Mr Taylor would have continued his life of criminality but for the apprehension by the police".
He said Taylor, despite his socio-economic circumstances which included a supportive family who plied him with money and clothing, made the decision to join the criminal organisation.
"He went into it with his eyes wide open," the trial judge said.
"This court notes that this trial went on for a year plus and all during that time Mr Taylor's view was that the witnesses were lying on him and now, having been convicted, it has somewhat dawned on him that maybe [the two witnesses] were telling the truth after all… That, to this court, is a tactical decision [to get a lighter sentence]," the chief justice asserted.
"He had all this time and if he was of the view that 'I am really a member of a criminal organisation' he could have changed his plea to guilty [early in the trial], and now this acceptance to now seem remorseful, I don't accept. It is to curry favour with the court," the trial judge said.
"I am sorry to disappoint you, Mr Taylor, it simply won't work here. This idea that you are remorseful, Mr Taylor, I surely don't accept at all," Justice Sykes said.
Taylor, according to one Crown witness, was the man convicted gang leader Andre "Blackman" Bryan used as a decoy for shootings done in the Shelter Rock community in Spanish Town.
Bryan, Taylor, Dylon McLean, Michael Whitely, Brian Morris and Lamar Simpson were sentenced to a cumulative 76 years on Monday.
When the matter resumes today the remaining convicts — 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 gang and had various roles in which they acted as killers, drivers, lookout men or watchmen, gunsmiths, and foot soldiers.