A man who was said to have been a bodyguard of Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, the alleged leader of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang, has refuted claims that he was one of the drivers of the ‘duppy truck’, the vehicle that was alleged used to transport gangsters to commit murders and shootings.
In fact, defendant Ricardo Thomas, has both denied that he can drive and that he knew Bryan.
“Mi nuh know who name Blackman,” Thomas told prosecutors during cross-examination on Thursday during the gang trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
The defence for 22 of the 28 remaining accused have wrapped up their cases and responses to the evidence that was marshalled by the prosecution in the trial that got started in September of last year.
Most of the defendants have opted to give unsworn statements from the dock, but Thomas opted to take the stand and give a sworn statement.
He denied allegations that were made by one of the two gangsters-turned-state-witnesses, that he was the driver of the ‘duppy truck’.
“Mi can’t drive none tall,” Thomas quipped when a prosecutor contended that he was one of the gang’s drivers.
Thomas also rejected a suggestion by the prosecutor that he was a bodyguard of Bryan.
“Mi nuh stand guard fi nuh one,” the accused asserted.
Like his other co-accused, Thomas denied being part of a criminal organisation, and refuted claims that he test fired guns for the alleged gang, as one of the former gangsters-turned-state-witnesses had testified.
“Mi ah nuh memba of any gang, and mi nuh know nothing bout nuh gang,” he told the court.
Thomas joined defendant Kalifa Williams as the only two accused so far to take the stand and testify, subjecting themselves to cross-examination by prosecutors.
Williams, who gave his statement on Wednesday, denied being a gangster, or having been involved in any shooting incident.
He also denied allegations that were made by one of the two prosecution witnesses, that he (Williams) was a top shooter for the gang.
Williams also denied knowing Bryan, and claimed that the first time he saw the alleged gang leader was when he met him in 2019 when the case was mentioned in court.
Meanwhile, two more defendants gave unsworn statements from the dock on Thursday.
Defendant Ted Prince, who was described by one of the prosecution’s main witness as a foot soldier, denied that claim.
Foot soldiers, the witness testified, were charged as being responsible for ensuring that murders that were ordered by Bryan were executed as planned. They were also responsible for collecting extortion money on occasions.
Prince denied those claims when he spoke in court, and told trial judge, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, that he was a shoemaker by profession, and knew nothing about gang activities.
“From mi born mi never get a shot yet, your honour, and mi never drive inna nuh car wid dis man guh burn down nowhere,” he told Sykes.
A witness had previously testified that Prince was among a group of gangsters who went to an informal community called ‘Fisheries’ and ‘New Nursery’, where Jermaine Robinson and his girlfriend, Cedella Walder, were shot and killed in September 2017.
Their house was subsequently set ablaze by the gangsters.
Prince maintained that the witness was telling lies on him.
Accused Dylon McLean also proclaimed his innocence, and suggested that he was a warehouse attendant up to the time he was arrested and charged.
He also refuted claims that he held a gun or ever fired one in his life.
A former gangster-turned-state-witness had testified that McLean was an active member of the gang, and that there was a secret escape route behind McLean’s house, that the gangsters often used to flee Jones Avenue from the police.
The witness testified that he had seen McLean removing an Intra-Tech gun from his roof.
McLean admitted that while he lived in Jones Avenue, he hardly came out of his house, and that he had never seen any of the two former gangsters who testified against him.
The witnesses claimed, however, that they knew McLean.
In the meantime, Sykes was informed that the defence attorneys for the six defendants whose cases are still to be closed, are awaiting records of police station diaries, data from the prisoner’s admission book from a detention centre, as well as character witnesses, to complete their cases.
He instructed the attorneys to ensure that the producers of the relevant data are present in court to explain how the information was collected and prepared.
The top jurist said the trial could end by next week if the defence concludes its case by then.
The 28 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.
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.
The trial is set to resume on Monday.