Defence lawyer blocks entry of gun into evidence
The prosecution in the Clansman-One Don Gang trial yesterday suffered another blow after efforts to admit into evidence one of the two illegal guns and several rounds of ammunition it had seized from an ex-member of the One Don Gang were blocked by the defence.
The Ruger 9mm pistol and 32 rounds of ammunition, which were reportedly turned over to the police by the ex-gangster, were instead marked for identification after the judge upheld the defence’s objection.
Attorney-at-law Kimani Brydson, in challenging the admission of the exhibits, argued that there was a break in the chain of custody after the gun and ammunition were collected by the lead investigator and left at the Caymanas Police Station before they were retrieved one day later and taken to the forensic lab.
Cop pretended to be gangster’s uncle
The chief investigator, a detective sergeant, had testified that he had made arrangements with the ex-gangster and had collected two weapons, a rifle and the 9mm pistol, along with the ammunition.
He told the court that he had accompanied the ex-gangster to Jones Avenue in Spanish Town, St Catherine, to retrieve the 9mm pistol under the guise that he was the now-witness’ uncle and when they arrived, defendants Roel Taylor handed over the gun in a scandal bag to the witness, while and Joseph McDermott gave the witness the ammunition in a bottle.
The sergeant said after they left, he took the gun and ammunition to the Caymanas Police Station and left them there with another police officer after packaging them and went back for them the next day. They were then taken to the Scenes of Crime office in Kingston to be swabbed for fingerprints before being moved to the Forensic Laboratory in Kingston on the same day.
He, however, testified yesterday that he had not placed any identifiable mark on the 9mm, but had examined it and had noticed that it had the name Ruger inscribed on it and that the serial number was missing.
But, yesterday when the prosecutor asked Justice Bryan Sykes to have the gun and ammunition admitted into evidence, Brydson objected.
“There is a break in the chain of custody, specifically at the point in time when this officer is saying that the firearm and ammunition were left at the Caymanas Police Station. This officer is not in a position to say what had happened to the items while they were detained at the Caymanas Police Station.
“And the manner in which those items were secured is not enough to prevent any kind of tampering or manipulation to ensure what is being presented to the court was what was taken from the officer,” the attorney posited.
The prosecution earlier this week encountered a similar roadblock when it tried to get the secret phone recordings of conversations between the gang members and the prosecution’s second witness admitted into evidence and had to restrategise.
The prosecution, in his new strategy, will be calling four police witnesses, which include the lead investigator. Two of the four police witnesses have already completed their testimony, and so far, the prosecution has managed to get one of the three phones admitted into evidence.
The prosecution’s second witness, a former top-tier member of the gang, had testified that he had secretly recorded phone conversations that he had with key alleged members of the gang, including the reputed leader, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, and had handed them over to the police.
Bryan and 32 other alleged gang members are being tried on an indictment with 25 counts under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act and the Firearms Act.
The One Don Gang is a breakaway faction of the Clansman Gang.
The lead investigator will return to the stand when the case resumes on Monday.