Sat | Apr 1, 2023

Witnesses’ testimony on double murder in sync – Sykes

Published:Wednesday | February 1, 2023 | 1:33 AM

Evidence given by a witness in relation to a 2017 double murder and arson in St Catherine appears to corroborate the testimony of a former member of the Clansman-One Don Gang, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has said.

Jermaine Bryan and Cedella Walder were reportedly murdered on the night of September 9 when members of the gang reportedly stormed the New Nursery Fisheries community in search of Bobo Sparks, an alleged top shooter affiliated with a rival faction.

Reputed leader Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan is alleged to have killed the man while his alleged bodyguard, defendant, Tareek James, is alleged to have murdered the other victim.

During the trial, the witness testified that she was home during the alleged invasion when she heard Jermaine’s gate being kicked off, followed by explosions.

One of the prosecution’s main witnesses had given a similar account.

Consequently, Justice Sykes, during his summation of the evidence on Tuesday related to counts seven and eight, said the sequence of the events given by the community member coincides with the ex-gangster’s recollection and suggests that he was present at the crime scene on the night of the incident.

Blackman and fellow defendants James, Dylan McLean, Brian Morris, Fabian Johnson, and Michael Whitely are charged on the two counts with facilitating the commission of murder and arson by a criminal organisation.

The judge, however, indicated that DNA evidence to prove the identities of the couple was inconclusive. The bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

Justice Sykes said the evidence, on its own, was insufficient, adding that further assessment was required to prove that the victims were who the Crown claimed they were.

The judge, however, pointed out that the victims’ true identity was not a legal requirement for the Crown to succeed in proving its case on both counts.

Meanwhile, Justice Sykes also looked at the evidence presented by the two ex-gangster witnesses in relation to the murder of a man called Outlaw in Lauriston, St Catherine, in 2017.

In that case, the court heard that Bryan had ordered the man killed and had asked to be taken to the community to have a final look at the target.

The court also heard that he had had a fit of laughter when he was told that Outlaw was killed.

Both witnesses claimed they were present when the plan was hatched.

The judge agreed that there were several discrepancies and inconsistencies in the accounts of both main witnesses during cross-examination.

However, Justice Sykes said the inconsistencies were inconsequential. He also said that the inconsistencies did not lead him to believe that either witness was completely unreliable.

According to the judge, the inconsistencies primarily centred on the post-shooting accounts.

Bryan, James, and Carl Beech are charged in relation to the incident.

On the witnesses’ evidence, James is alleged to have bragged about killing the man. One witness said he told Bryan that he shot the victim eight times.

Neither of the two ex-gangsters had testified to witnessing the actual killing. But one of them claimed to have heard the gunshots and later saw the man bleeding on the ground.

In the meantime, the judge said the evidence presented in this particular instance would determine whether Beech was culpable.

The judge noted that it was the only incident in which his name was mentioned and that neither of the two ex-gangsters have pointed him out in any other alleged incident.

In this incident, one witness said he was sent by Bryan to pick up two other men but noted that they did not answer their phones. While on his way, he said Beech saw him in the car with James and said, “From him see dem man yah, him know somebody a go dead.”

But Justice Sykes said that it was still left to be determined whether Beech knew that a criminal organisation existed and that he knowingly facilitated the commission of a serious offence.

Bryan and 26 other alleged gang members are being tried on an indictment with multiple counts of offences under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act and the Firearms Act.

One of the defendants, Andre Smith, was shot and killed last August while he was on bail. Five others were freed.