Wednesday, 08 March 2023 11:34

Blackman 'weeps' in court: convicted of 6 murders, being gang leader

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With tears streaming down his face, Andre 'Blackman' Bryan wept openly in court after Chief Justice Bryan Sykes on Tuesday declared he was the leader of the notorious Spanish Town, St Catherine-based One Don faction of the Clansman gang.

The verdict is related to count one on the indictment, which charges Bryan with leadership of a criminal organisation. 

The conviction is being hailed in police circles as a major victory for law enforcement as they attempt to curb crime locally. 

Bryan and five other defendants learnt their fate in relation to more offences on the indictment on Tuesday in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston, where they have been on trial since September 2021. 

Overall, 26 defendants have been on trial, but three of the accused became the latest persons to walk free of all charges, including Kevaugh Green, Bryan's brother, who was found not guilty of being a member of a criminal organisation. 

In delivering his verdict against Bryan, Sykes told him that the evidence mounted by the prosecution confirmed his role as a gang leader, who gave directions to gangsters and organised the commission of serious crimes.

Sykes said Bryan often provided the weapons to commit some of those offences. 

Notwithstanding his purported good character reference by his character witnesses and his denying that he gave orders to individuals to commit murder, Sykes said the evidence points to him being "guilty".

The judge also examined secretly recorded cell phone conversations made by a self-styled don-turned-state-witness, which captured discussions between Bryan and his alleged cronies. 

Sykes said among the things discussed in the conversations was the strategy orchestrated by St Thomas pastor and the lone female defendant Stephanie 'Mumma' Christie, to rid the streets of disloyal members of the gang and those who turned against Bryan. 

The witness had testified that Christie had provided information on some of the disloyal gang members to the police, in an attempt to get them off the streets and so that they posed no threat to Bryan.

In one recording, Christie was heard telling other alleged gangsters that the case against Bryan was weak and he would soon return. 

Sykes said these discussions were based on the premise that Bryan was, in fact, the leader of the gang. 

The judge said there was nothing in the recordings which suggested that Bryan took a different view or refuted the steps being taken by Christie.

In pointing to the evidence given on several occasions at the trial, the chief jurist said they were consistent with several counts on the indictment relative to the perception that Bryan was the leader of a criminal organisation. 

Sykes said it was clear that the individuals were awaiting Bryan's return from jail, to restore his leadership role.

The judge reminded the court of a particular cell phone conversation where a house was to be reportedly acquired preferably in a gated community, where Bryan would stay once he was released from custody.

Sykes said Christie spoke to Bryan in his capacity as a gang leader on occasions during the cell phone conservations.

Bryan held his head low and shook his legs as the reality of his conviction as a gang leader seemingly sank in.

The man who claimed to be a musician has been convicted of being involved in the murders of six individuals. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Bryan and his co-accused Ted Prince were found guilty of facilitating the commission of a serious offence, the murder of an unknown man.

The incident occurred on January 14, 2018 in the vicinity of Phil's Hardware in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Sykes, in analysing the evidence presented, said he was satisfied that Prince acted on Bryan's orders to have the man shot and killed.

Prince, alias 'Mawga Man', had denied ever being a gangster, but rather a shoemaker.

Prior to that, Bryan was convicted of facilitating the commission of the murders of a St Catherine couple — Jermaine Bryan and Cedella Walder — in 'Fisheries' or 'New Nursery' in Spanish Town, St Catherine in September 2017; the murder of a Rastafarian deportee in 2017; the murder of a man known as 'Outlaw' in 2017; and the murder of Damaine Forrester, alias 'Doolie', on Chancery Street in August 2017.

Meanwhile, Sykes found Bryan's cousin, Tomrick Taylor, guilty of being a member of the Spanish Town, St Catherine-based gang. 

The judge disclosed that he was satisfied that one of the former gangsters-turned-state witnesses had knowledge of Taylor's involvement in the gang.

Kevaughn Green, the brother of the now-declared leader of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang, was freed of being a member of a criminal organisation. 

Sykes said the evidence by the crown relative to Green was not sufficient to prove that he was a member of the gang under the law.

Green was initially charged on four counts, including membership in the gang. However, two of the counts relating to facilitating two murders and another relating to illegal possession of a firearm had also failed.

Before Green could stand when Sykes told him he was free to leave, Bryan latched on to his brother's wrist.

Both brothers often sat closely together at the trial, and often engage in inaudible conversations. 

"Mr Green, you are free to go, sir, have a good day," Sykes told him.

Green did not look back, but Bryan reached for a rag in his pocket to seemingly wipe what appeared to be tears from his eyes once more.

Similarly, Kaliffa Williams, alias 'Baba', who was alleged to be a top shooter in the gang, was found not guilty of being a member of a criminal organisation, as well as Pete Miller, alias 'Smokie'.

Miller was on Monday freed of his involvement in a murder and arson of a couple in St Catherine in 2017.

Sykes said he found that both Williams and Miller were in police custody at the time witnesses testified that they were committing crimes as members of the gang.

Miller was released from custody, but though Williams was freed of all charges relative to the trial, he remains in custody on other unconnected charges.

Sykes is to rule on Wednesday whether the other 21 defendants, including alleged main operative and lone female accused, Stephanie 'Mumma' Christie, incarcerated convict Jason 'City Puss' Brown, and ex-Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) member Jermaine Robinson, are members of a criminal organisation. 

Bryan has already been found guilty as being the leader of the gang, and Tomrick Taylor was convicted of being a member of a criminal organisation. 

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