After hosting suspected members of the renowned Klansman gang, including reputed faction head Andre “Blackman” Bryan, to conceal their extortion cash and leased getaway cars, a prosecution star witness yesterday said he chose to testify against his buddies so as not to “waste the court’s time.”
“Witness number two,” who entered the stand for the first time yesterday and is the first witness summoned by the Crown in the prosecution of 33 people accused of being members of that gang, testified that he met Bryan through a buddy who was a member of the ring but is now deceased.
The witness, who said that he had been jailed many times as a result of his contacts with the gang, stated that it was his decision to “come out to testify against these guys” and disputed that he had been promised or offered to do so.
According to the witness, at their initial encounter in December 2016, he had no idea who Bryan was but questioned his buddy about his identity since he noticed how “afraid” his friend was of Bryan. He also stated that he knew Bryan was “superior” to his friend based on how his friend reacted to him.
“He started moving nervously, tripping [in his speaking], normal, usual afraid,” stated the witness, who acknowledged to being Bryan’s personal and getaway driver.
“He was at my house all the time; he was at my place every day. He used to sleep at my place for months… almost two years,” the witness testified in court.
“I learned he was Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan and you don’t deny a gangster,” he claimed of his decision to become Bryan’s personal driver.
He also informed the court that his residence became a haven for Bryan’s alleged bodyguard, who was allegedly hiding from the cops. He said that the bodyguard had lived with Bryan at his uptown apartment on Shortwood Road in St Andrew, but had been forced to escape because authorities were looking for him.
Yesterday, the witness, who appeared via video connection, identified many of the accused in the dock, including Bryan, while recounting situations in which he engaged with them and revealing the 2017 murder of “Doolie” at Price Rite in Meadowbrook, St Andrew.
The witness, who stated that planning and instructions were typically carried out and delivered from the gang’s claimed headquarters on Jones Avenue in Spanish Town, testified in court that the plot for Doolie’s murder was planned at his residence.
He said Doolie was assassinated because it was believed he was in charge of the Thompson Pen region, which was controlled by a branch of the gang commanded by jailed Klansman strongman Tesha Miller, and “they wanted to transfer him.”
According to the witness, Doolie was murdered after a botched initial attempt.
According to the witness, Bryan was in “my house” with a lady when the murder occurred, and upon learning of it, he stated, “A long time mi nuh kill sumptn” before retreating upstairs to the woman.
“In Spanish Town, they kill and murder individuals and extort a few villages. When questioned why he believed the individuals constituted a gang, he informed the court, “I was a member of it.”
In support of his allegation that Bryan was the leader, he stated, “He issued the instructions to murder people…to us, the gang members.”
The witness, who claimed to be the gang’s banker, said in court that he recovered extortion payments ranging from $80,000 to $100,000 every day from the part of the bus park in Spanish Town controlled by Bryan.
He further stated that funds were gathered from a neighborhood behind the bus stop and the Torpedo Loan Company, which has locations around the island. This amounted to $150,000 every month, he claimed. He said another $200,000 per month was received from an organization, but he refused to name it in court due to security concerns and “powerful individuals.”
All cash received, he said, were stored in his refrigerator and used to “purchase pistol and shoot, and pay legal fees,” as well as buy food, pay for rental cars, and provide to gang members who requested payments through Bryan.
When the trial continues at 10:00 a.m. today in the Home Circuit Division of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston before Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, the witness who left off recounting another murder in 2017 of a man known as “Outlaw” will continue delivering his testimony.
The case, which has the most defendants ever tried simultaneously in a single case, is being handled by 40 attorneys. The accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) (Amendment) Act, also known as anti-gang legislation, with many facing additional charges under the Firearms Act for offences committed between 2015 and 2019. When arraigned on Monday, all 33 defendants, who are being prosecuted under a 25-count indictment, pled “not guilty” to the accusations leveled against them.
They are accused of being a member of a criminal organization, murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, unlawful possession of a firearm, and illegal possession of ammunition.
Bryan is accused of being the commander of a criminal organization, the Klansman/One Don gang, among other things.
Tesha Miller, the leader of the gang’s other section, was convicted in 2019 of arranging the 2008 murder of then-Jamaica Urban Transit Company Chairman Douglas Chambers. In 2016, Blackman, the accused hitman at the time, was acquitted of the murder.
According to police, the fragmented gang, which has an estimated 400 members, has wreaked havoc in the parish of St Catherine and has links on neighboring islands and places worldwide.