Gang trial delayed as defendants contract COVID
The Clansman-One Don Gang trial involving 33 alleged gangsters has been postponed until October 19 after two of the defendants contracted the novel coronavirus.
When the trial resumed in the Home Circuit Court on Monday, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes reported that the two defendants, Andre Golding and Owen Ormsby, had done COVID- 19 tests and were pulled from the hearing pending their results.
The judge indicated that the men were being housed at a St Catherine facility, where cases of the virus have been detected.
Consequently, the matter was adjourned and the results, which were returned later in the day, showed that they were positive.
Hence, the judge made the decision to postpone the matter for the next two weeks.
Not equipped for remote hearings
Before the matter was postponed, Sykes lamented the fact that all major police stations were not equipped to facilitate remote hearing from the various courts.
“Eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, one would have thought that by now all the main police stations would have had that capability by now,” he said. “We will be pressing the police to have that capability in place at all the stations. That is now to be regarded as a standard provision.”
Sykes noted that remote hearing will become a normal feature in the court system, adding that it was not just about the pandemic, but about embracing 21-century technology.
Thirty-three defendants, including reputed One Don Gang leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan and a lone female, Stephanie Christie, are being tried on an indictment with 25 counts under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act and the Firearms Act, to which they have pleaded not guilty.
The charges include being part of a criminal organisation, illegal possession of firearm, facilitating conspiracy to murder, facilitating murder, and facilitating arson.
The One Don Gang is a breakaway faction of the Clansman, reportedly led by incarcerated accessory to murder convict Tesha Miller.
When the trial resumes on October 19, a former gang member, who is the prosecution’s first witness, will complete his evidence-in-chief.