Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Two freed in Uchence Wilson Gang trial

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2020 | 12:15 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Two men who were on trial for allegedly being part of the Uchence Wilson Gang were freed on Tuesday of knowingly providing a benefit to a criminal organisation.

Ricardo Serju and Jermaine Stewart were found not guilty in the Home Circuit Court.

On day two of his summation in the trial of alleged criminals linked to the so-called Uchence Wilson Gang, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes placed under the microscope a scheme which the prosecution alleges was used to rinse stolen items for cash.

At the Supreme Court building in downtown Kingston, Sykes said he found gaps in the evidence presented by the prosecution’s star witness, who had confessed that he had been bringing stolen items for the gang to a pawnshop.

The witness said during the trial that the scheme commenced in 2015.

However, in the summation, Sykes said that having examined more than 30 contracts which were produced, the prosecution had not put into evidence that the items pawned by the witness had, in fact, been stolen.

During the trial, an ex-gangster-turned-witness told the court that when he went to the pawnshop, he dealt primarily with Serju and Stewart.

He also said that Serju advised him to get others to trade the stolen items to avoid arousing suspicion.

It was said that the money obtained from these items was used to rent vehicles to assist them in their illicit activities.

Sykes, in poring over the evidence given by a regional manager of the pawnshop, said he found it curious that a number of contracts from 2015 when scheme was said to have started were not presented despite the system’s capability.

“She searched the system. So if Mr [NAME REDACTED] was going there in 2015, as he would have us believe, why is it that [NAME DEDACTED] system did not pick up or unearth any transaction involving [NAME REDACTED]. There is no evidence explaining that,” Sykes noted in court on Tuesday.

As Sykes identified gaps in the case presented by the prosecution, attorney-at-law Lloyd McFarlane smirked, smiled, and sometimes even laughed.

The pawnshop representative had, during the trial, told the court that phone numbers were used to link individuals to contracts.

The prosecution had brought telecommunications companies FLOW and Digicel to testify to help ground their cases against the accused.

But on Tuesday, Sykes told the court that he would not be relying on information from FLOW and Digicel to link the alleged members of the gang to the pawned items.

According to Sykes, the telecoms had failed to say how the database of its customers was populated.

He said that was a key point that was not explained and was separate from establishing the integrity of the database.

Wilson and his 17 alleged cronies are on trial for breaches of the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act 2014, commonly known as the Anti-Gang Legislation, between 2015 and 2017.

They are also being tried for breaches of the Firearms Act.

Sykes will continue his summation today.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com