Black Immigrant Daily News
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes says the court must determine whether the voice identification of defendant Jason ‘City Puss’ Brown by an ex-gangster member is accurate, despite the witness having never seen the accused man in person.
But Sykes said though the defendant was never seen by the witness, Brown did not refute the allegations that were levelled against him, as he opted to remain silent when he was given an opportunity to give sworn testimony or an unsworn statement from the prisoner’s dock.
Sykes made the observations as he continued his extensive summation of the evidence that was presented in one of Jamaica’s longest trials involving 27 alleged members of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang.
The trial, which began in September 2021, has seen the prosecution marshalling significant evidence for several months, including the playing of secretly recorded conversations between alleged gangsters and a former gangster-turned-state-witness.
The former self-styled don had downloaded a call-recording app on three cell phones to tape the alleged gangsters, and then handed over the devices to police investigators in a bid to gain evidence against his alleged former cronies.
On Wednesday, Sykes continued his assessment of the recordings, and pointed to one such recording involving the ex-gangster, Brown and another purported main operative of the gang, Stephanie ‘Mumma’ Christie.
According to Sykes, the general members of the public, who he described as outsiders, would not understand the contents of such conversations while listening on without an explanation.
Sykes said only an insider could have knowledge of certain information that were mentioned in such conversations, and actually participate in the dialogues.
According to Sykes, it would not be possible for Brown to participate in the conversations if he was an outsider of the criminal network.
Evidence presented at the trial had shown that Brown has been incarcerated since he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012 for the 2005 murder of a man in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
Though he never met him, the witness said he spoke to Brown several times on the phone, but said he only knew him by the name ‘City Puss’.
The former gangster had identified the voice on the recordings played in court by that alias.
Sykes said on Wednesday that if the court is to be believe the witness, then his evidence would show that he had prior knowledge of the voice he identified as being that of ‘City Puss’.
This, said Sykes, would meet the legal requirement for voice identification.
However, he cautioned that the court must ascertain whether the voice identification was accurate or not.
Further, the judge said the court must also determine whether other evidence mounted by the crown were sufficient in proving that Brown is, in fact, ‘City Puss’.
A retired police inspector testified that he visited Brown while the latter was incarcerated at the Horizon Remand Centre in St Andrew.
The former police officer said Brown was responsible for making threats to business people to pay extortion monies, all while being behind bars.
However, Brown was freed of such charges due to lack of evidence presented relative to his involvement in the alleged extortion.
The officer had identified Brown in court when he testified last year.
Brown is currently on trial for being a member of a criminal organisation.
Sykes said the evidence against Brown on that charge is a classic case of burden and standard of proof.
However, he observed, too, that there was no evidence from Brown to counter the testimonies of the witnesses, citing that Brown refrained from saying anything to support his defence.
Brown had opted to remain silent during the defence’s case at the trial.
Still, Sykes said the court will have to assess whether the crown’s case was proven beyond a reasonable doubt relative to Brown being a member of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang.
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.