Thursday, 09 March 2023 11:09

15 overall, including ex-soldier, convicted of being Clans gangsters

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A female St Thomas pastor and an ex-soldier are among 15 persons, including the leader, Andre 'Blackman' Bryan, who have been formally declared members of the notorious Spanish Town, St Catherine-based One Don faction of the Clansman gang.

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes handed down the final verdicts on Wednesday, marking an end to one of Jamaica's longest running trials.

The sentencing hearing is to commence on July 3 of this year.

Social enquiry reports and antecedent reports have been ordered for the convicted men and woman.

A total of 26 persons remained on trial up to Tuesday morning, but following the proceedings on Wednesday, 15 were convicted of being members of a criminal organisation, while 11 were freed.

Along with Andre 'Blackman' Bryan, who was previously found guilty of being the leader of a criminal organisation, those convicted of being gang members included: St Thomas pastor, Stephanie 'Mumma' Christie; former Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldier Jermaine Robinson; Bryan's cousins, Tomrick Taylor and Tomrick’s brother, Roel Taylor; and one of Bryan's alleged bodyguards, Dylon McLean.

Also convicted of being members of the gang are: Jahzeel Blake, Michael Whitely, Lamar Simpson, Tareek James, Fabian Johnson, Joseph McDermott, Andre Golding, Bryan Morris, and Ted Prince.

Roles of Christie and ex-soldier

On Wednesday, Sykes used an hour to analyse and assess Christie's role in the gang.

A former gangster-turned-state-witness who said he was the gang's banker, described Christie as a "top-tier" member of the gang.

Top-tier members of the gang, the witness explained, were "gangsta more than gangsta".

He testified that based on the fact that Christie was in charge of the gang's business affairs, she would be considered as a top-tier member.

Concerning Christie's other roles as a top-tier member, the witness claimed she would communicate with the police "if there is a problem" with gangsters, and go to the police and find out the nature of the problem.

Further, the woman would allegedly deliver "sensitive" messages on behalf of Bryan if he wished not to speak on the phone, among other roles.

For Sykes, the overall evidence proves that if a gangster was held by the police, Christie would get someone to post bail or a lawyer to intervene.

There were several secretly recorded conversations by a former gangster-turned-state-witness, which captured Christie's voice expressing concern about disloyal gang members, and how she wanted to have some of them jailed and imprisoned so that they would not impede Andre 'Blackman' Bryan on his expected released from police custody.

Sykes said all the evidence cumulatively showed Christie’s roles and functions in the organisation.

There was also evidence from a retired inspector who claimed that Christie offered him $100,000 to have the gang leader released from police custody.

The police said he asked her for two rifles instead, and she said that was ‘the least’.

Sykes said such a narrative would be consistent with the evidence of Christie being the face of the organisation to interact with the police.

For Jermaine Robinson, who was a serving member of the JDF when he was arrested, Sykes said he used his military expertise to offer services to the gang as a bodyguard to Andre 'Blackman' Bryan, the leader of the gang.

The judge said Robinson was also a member of the gang, based on his conversations with gangsters, as were heard from the secretly recorded conversations.

Other convictions

Several of those convicted have also been found guilty of facilitating the commission of a serious offences, including several murders.

For instance, Andre 'Blackman' Bryan, McLean, James and Blake were found guilty of facilitating the commission of a serious offence in the murders of Jermaine Bryan and his girlfriend, Cedella Walder, in 'Fisheries' or 'New Nursery' in Spanish Town, St Catherine in September 2017.

The men were also found guilty of arson of a dwelling place relative to the same incident.

Bryan was solely found guilty of facilitating the commission of a serious offence in the murder of a supermarket worker identified as 'Doolie'.

Doolie, whose real name is Damaine Forrester, was murdered in August 2017, reportedly because of his perceived association with the then Tesha Miller-led faction of the Clansman gang.

The gun murder occurred before a prominent wholesale establishment on Chancery Street in St Andrew.

Bryan and Tareek James were found guilty of facilitating the commission of the murder of a man called 'Outlaw', whose real name is Patrick Tulloch, in Lauriston, Spanish Town, St Catherine on November 2, 2017.

Bryan and James were also convicted of conspiracy to murder 'Outlaw'.

The gang leader's cousin, Roel Taylor, was convicted of illegal possession of firearm and illegal possession of ammunition.

The chief jurist said he was convinced that Bryan, Brian Morris and Michael Whitely "are guilty" of facilitating the commission of the murder of a Rastafarian deportee on Jones Avenue in Spanish Town, St Catherine on January 14, 2018.

Bryan and Ted Prince, alias 'Mawga Man', were convicted of facilitating the murder of an unknown man outside Phil's Hardware store in Spanish Town, St Catherine in 2018.

Not guilty

Somewhat surprisingly, convicted murderer Jason 'City Puss' Brown was among the eight defendants who were freed on Wednesday of being members of a criminal organisation.

Sykes said Brown who was accused of being a top-tier member of the gang, was not properly identified by any of the two gangsters-turned-state-witnesses.

Those witnesses said they had never seen Brown, but had only heard him speak on cell phones.

A police witness, however, said he recognised Brown's voice from voice notes he sent threatening business people in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

The retired officer said he visited 'City Puss' at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre to charge him.

The said retired lawman could not properly identify Brown's voice in court, and Sykes said he would have to free him on that basis.

However, Brown remains in prison, as he was sentenced to 25 years in prison before parole consideration for a murder he was convicted of in 2012.

Along with Brown, the other defendants freed on Wednesday are: Daniel McKenzie, Dwight Hall, Donovan Richards, Marco Miller, Ricardo Thomas, Chevroy Evans, and Kemar Harrison.

On Tuesday, Bryan's brother, Kevaughn Green, along with Kaliffa Williams and Pete Miller, were freed.

A total of 33 defendants were on trial initially, but six had earlier been freed of all charges against them, due to insufficient evidence. These defendants included Carl Beech, who was freed on February 28 of this year. The other five were freed last year.

Another defendant, Andre Smith, was murdered last August while being out on bail.

The 15 convicts and the 11 men freed over the last two days were all being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act), 2014, better known as the anti-gang legislation, on an indictment containing several counts, including murder and arson.

The offences were committed between January 1, 2015, and June 30, 2019, mainly in St Catherine, with at least one murder committed in St Andrew.