Uchence Wilson Gang trial goes on one-month break

Uchence Wilson Gang trial goes on one-month break

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, June 01, 2019

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THE Uchence Wilson Gang trial will not be sitting for the month of June and is scheduled to resume on July 1.

The trial, which started on March, 5 and sat for 45 days, was adjourned Thursday after the prosecution closed its case after calling 34 witnesses.

The break, however, is due to the unavailability of presiding judge, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, who will be out of the jurisdiction between June 2 and 22, as a result of a work-related matter.

The prosecution had asked for the matter to be resumed in September, noting that the expertise of a member of its team was needed elsewhere, but Justice Sykes said that it would not be wise to break for so long given the volume of evidence that is involved in the case and especially because 23 of the 24 defendants have been in custody for 18 months and need to know the outcome of the case in the quickest time possible.

Meanwhile, the prosecution was granted, in part, an application to amend the indictment in respect to Odeen “Brinks” Smith, who is to be added to the charge of facilitating serious offence by a criminal organisation contrary to Section 6 (1) b of the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisation) Act.

The particulars of that offence is that defendants Uchence Wilson, Fitz Roy Scott, Michael Lamont, Stephenson Bennett, and Machel Goulbourne, between the 1st day of January 2016 and the 31st day of December 2016 at Ewarton, in the parish of St Catherine, knowingly facilitated the commission of a serious offence by a criminal organisation to wit – wounding with intent.

The prosecution had also applied for count 10 of the indictment to be amended from St Catherine to be changed to Clarendon, but the judge noted that will have to be decided when all the lawyers are present, in the event there are any objections.

In the meantime, the prosecution was given until June 14 to furnish the judge and the defence with a road map of its case, which Justice Sykes had requested.

Reputed gang leader 28-year-old Wilson and 23 alleged gang members, including four women and a police corporal, are being tried for various breaches under the Criminal Justice Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act.

The defendants are facing a total of 52 counts on charges of being part of a criminal organisation, leadership of a criminal organisation, illegal possession of firearm, facilitating serious offence by a criminal organisation, accessory after the fact, concealing participant in a criminal organisation, knowingly providing a benefit, knowingly obtaining a benefit and shooting with intent.

The gang is alleged to have wreaked havoc in St Catherine, Clarendon, St Andrew, St Mary, and St Ann, by carrying out several acts of robberies, shop-breaking, burglary and larceny in which items such as motor vehicles, firearms, appliances, cellular phones and other valuables were stolen.

The alleged gang leader and his co-accused, Michael Lamont, are also accused of committing rape while operating as a criminal organisation.

All the defendants except Shadday Beckford, who is charged with being a part of a criminal organisation, were remanded.

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