Monday 17 December, 2018

Chilling account of police involvement in deadly Uchence gang

The deep-seated corruption in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) was laid bare in the Supreme Court on Wednesday when the court was told how a Detective Corporal of Police, Lloyd Knight, who has been linked to the so-called Uchence gang, willfully caused the death of an informant.

Senior prosecutor Jeremy Taylor, in a chilling and spellbinding outline of the prosecution’s case, said Detective Corporal Lloyd Knight told alleged gang leader Uchence Wilson that the informant was constantly making reports about him at the police station. Knight allegedly described the man as an informer. According to Taylor, Wilson went to the informant’s house at Commodore in St Catherine and killed him.

Knight is one of two members of the JCF before the court with 24 other members of the Uchence gang which was smashed last month following intensive investigations by the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime (CTOC) branch. The other member of the police force linked to the gang is Constable Stephon Martin.

Knight was described as a ‘spotter’ for the gang. He reportedly targeted individuals to be robbed and benefitted from the proceeds. One such incident as outlined by the prosecution was the so-called ‘fruits man” robbery where Knight allegedly targeted the victim and transported gang members to St Mary to rob him. Knight also allegedly provided weapons for the gang and transported said weapons to and from the robbery. His reward from that hit was allegedly a flat screen TV.

The court was also told that following a shootout between the police and gang members, the alleged gang leader Wilson contacted Knight and asked to be told when the police had left the area. He was told so. Wilson and two other gang members reportedly boarded a stolen taxi later that evening and went to a plaza in Linstead, St Catherine where they met with Detective Corporal Knight. This was after they had allegedly given their guns to women to take out of the area in their ‘baby bags’ according to the prosecution.

Constable Martin was also described by the prosecution as a spotter who identified businesses to be targeted. He was reportedly friends with Fitzroy Scott, the gang’s deputy leader.

During a robbery on Barbican Road in Liguanea, St Andrew, a cooperating witness allegedly detailed the incident, including the alleged role played by Constable Martin. The witness was told not to worry as there would be police patrols in the area while the robbery was taking place. The cooperating witness was assured that he would not be caught. While committing the robbery, the cooperating witness said he could see the patrol vehicle going by the business place. He reported that the robbery netted some J$100,000 and an undetermined amount of US dollars, computers and other equipment. The following day he met with Constable Martin at a location close to the Sovereign Centre in Liguanea where Martin was given $10,000 for his troubles.

And several businesses were allegedly involved with the gang. Two employees of a pawn shop in Cross Roads were named as gang members. They are Jermaine Stewart and Ricardo Serjue who were charged with providing a benefit to a criminal gang. The court was told that the pawn shop bought items that were deemed too hot for gang members to sell. The pawn shop even bought motor cars from them as well as jewelry, phones and electronics. At one point brazen gang members even advertised two stolen Toyota Axio motor cars for sale in The Gleaner.

There was also an alleged incident in Kellits, Clarendon where the house of a witness was ransacked then burnt and the uncle of the witness killed. This happened the day before the witness was to attend an identification parade involving Scott.

For his part, Wilson was described as one of the main rapists in the gang.

The criminal enterprise which reportedly netted some $400 million in its operations across seven parishes has reportedly left a trail of dead bodies as well as rape and robbery victims.

Twenty-three of the 26 were remanded when they appeared in court on Wednesday. They will appear in court in the coming weeks when their respective bail applications will be considered. Wilson, who is facing multiple charges including rape and murder, is due back in court on February 22.

Taylor told the court that each member of the gang played active roles. According to Taylor “there were no passive participants in the gang.”He said it was not the typical gang that engaged in turf wars. Rather, the gang’s sole motivation was profit and their mobility made the entire Jamaica their turf.

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