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Defence warned of high bar for charge dismissals

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes put defence lawyers in the Clansman-One Don Gang trial on notice that the argument that the Crown had failed to establish their clients’ criminal antecedents under the anti-gang legislation would not wash and was insufficient to dismiss the charge entirely.

Lawyers representing the 29 remaining alleged gangsters, including its reputed leader, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, have been arguing since last Thursday that the prosecution has not presented adequate evidence to ground the charge of gang membership under the Criminal Justice Suppression Act.

Among these are:

1. Whether a person has admitted to being a member;

2. Evidence that the person is or has associated with the criminal entity, or has been involved with the entity or any of its participants with the intent to facilitate the commission of a serious offence, or to promote, further or assist in the criminal activity;

3. Evidence that the person knowingly assisted in, or in any way facilitated, the concealment, transportation or disposal of evidentiary material relating to an unlawful activity engaged in by the entity;

4. Evidence that the person knowingly concealed or shared in the proceeds of the unlawful activity.

But Justice Sykes sought to put the brakes on the recurring line of argument during the no-case submission made by attorney-at-law Mikael Lorne on behalf of defendant Kemar Harrison.

The lawyer argued that the Crown has not presented any evidence to show that Harrison was, in fact, a member of the gang and that he should not be found guilty of being a member, as the prosecution had not satisfied the criteria of the statute in its entirety.

“We are saying in order to tie Mr Harrison to an organisation, then these elements would have to show that Mr Harrison, in some way, shape, or form, was present in the context of this particular section of the statute. That is what I am humbly submitting,” Lorne maintained.

But the judge told him that he did not agree with that interpretation from the outset.

“It’s not mandatory. There are some things that the court may consider, but if those things are not there, it does not automatically follow that you can’t establish the existence or membership of a criminal establishment,” Sykes stated.

Earlier during the proceedings, the judge told another attorney that there was no merit in one of her arguments.

The lawyer, Zara Lewis, who is representing Roel Taylor, argued that the judge should find that her client had no case to answer in respect of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

The court had heard evidence that the police had recovered a rifle in furniture for which Taylor had the key, but the lawyer said that the Crown had not presented any evidence proving that her client had knowledge that the gun was hidden in the shop.

She further argued that another person was present outside the furniture shop.

But the judge told her that that argument could not be relevant as possession of the key would put her client in a position of control.

“So that point that you’re making here is not happening. Put your mind at ease,” the judge remarked.

The trial will continue today in the Home Circuit Court with more no-case submissions.