Black Immigrant Daily News
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has indicated that based on cell phone conversations between an ex-gangster and then Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldier, Jermaine Robinson, it could suggest that the latter knew the purported leader of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan.
Sykes made the observation during the start of the fourth week of his summation of evidence in the high-profile gang trial that is being held in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
Bryan and Robinson are among the 27 defendants who remain on trial.
Sykes has been examining aspects of the secret recordings of cell phone conversations involving a former gangster turned-state-witness and some of the accused persons.
The former self-styled don recorded the calls by downloading a call recorder app on three cell phones, which he then handed over to police investigators he was working with at the time.
Sykes paid particular attention on Monday to aspects of the recordings between Robinson and the witness.
The witness and another former gangster-turned-state-witness had both testified that Robinson, though a soldier at the time, was one of Bryan’s bodyguards.
Robinson was arrested in July 2019 for his alleged role in the gang, and was subsequently charged. He has denied he was a member of the gang or was Bryan’s bodyguard.
In one of the recordings Sykes paid attention to on the day, Robinson was heard requesting to speak with Bryan.
The witness had previously testified that Robinson’s first request to speak with Bryan, who was in police custody at that time, was at a checkpoint in Spanish Town, St Catherine in 2018.
That was when the two exchanged numbers and began regular conversations.
The former don had told the court that he and Robinson spoke on WhatsApp on several occasions, but he could not record the call conversations via that medium.
When Robinson called on one occasion, the witness said he informed him that the call was not working properly.
The ex-soldier then called directly (not via WhatsApp), and the witness was then able to record the conversation by that method.
In analysing an excerpt from one of the transcripts of the conversations between the witness and Robinson, Sykes pointed out that although the ex-soldier did not refer to the alleged gang leader by his name in the request, the evidence suggested that he knew of him (Bryan).
The judge said the recording also showed that Robinson “knew enough” to want to speak of the purported gang leader.
In another excerpt between the former don and Robinson, the soldier was heard enquiring about an illegal firearm named ‘Anna-Kaye’.
Sykes said it was interesting how that conversation flowed without any form of clarification as to who or what ‘Anna-Kaye’ was to the men.
The judge said if the court accepts those conversations between the two men, then they would point to the defendant having knowledge of the gang, its leader and certain inner workings of a criminal network.
Meanwhile, Sykes said overall, the recordings of cell phone conversations among the gangsters appeared to show some level of familiarity among them.
He said the vocabulary of words used in the conversations was consistent with the witness’ narrative during his testimony in court.
The judge pointed to instances when the purchases of guns were mentioned.
The witness had testified about the purchase of a ‘young gyal’ and a ‘Hanna’.
The former don had testified that these were the code names for M16 rifles and handguns, respectively.
According to Sykes, the defendants, at no point, asked for any clarification of the terms that were used by the witness.
Sykes said based on the progression of the conversations relative to those guns, it could show prior knowledge and understanding to the topics that were being discussed by the persons on the cell phone call.
Sykes said the court will have to decide if the evidence was strong enough to draw those conclusions.
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 being committed in St Andrew.