The defence attorney in the trial against Constable Collis “Chucky” Brown has suggested that the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) had set out to entrap his client by bringing up the subject of asylum in its meetings with him to ferret out information about the special police squad he led.
Assistant Commissioner of INDECOM Hamish Campbell yesterday strongly denied the suggestion, telling the Home Circuit Court yesterday that “nothing could be further from the truth”.
However, under cross-examination, it emerged that the subject was discussed during a meeting between the two and another INDECOM officer, Ryan Williams.
In the meeting transcript, a section of which Brown’s lawyer, Norman Godfrey, read, Williams was recorded as asking Brown, “Is that something you would consider; leaving the island with you and your family? … Leaving the island with proper arrangements for you and your family?”
Campbell, when asked if that conversation had happened, answered that it did.
Godfrey’s line of questioning followed the INDECOM witness’s defence of his failure to not caution Constable Brown during their first meeting on August 6, 2013, at a hotel in Manchester, when he realised that the officer had been implicating himself. Campbell maintained that the reasons had to do with the fact that that the witness had no lawyer, and that he was the one who had requested the meeting.
“But at that moment, in that room without a lawyer, he was armed, and I decided that I would not change the tenor of the meeting to announce that he need not say anything, and whatever he says may be used as evidence against him,” Campbell said.
It was then that Godfrey suggested to Campbell that INDECOM convened the meeting to induce his client to implicate himself.
“Nothing could be further from the truth in that statement of yours,” Campbell quickly replied.
Constable Brown, who has been in police custody since January 2014, is on trial for the January 10, 2009 murder of Robert “Gutty” Dawkins and for the double murder of Fearon and Douglas on December 13, 2012. He is also being tried on a charge of wounding and conspiracy to murder.
During further cross-examination yesterday, the INDECOM assistant commissioner also defended his reasons for questioning Constable Brown in the second meeting, and even after he had been arrested and placed in custody in January 2014, without his lawyer being present.
With regard to the second meeting, Campbell reiterated that he had advised Brown that he would be interviewed under caution and that he should have his lawyer accompany him to the meeting which was scheduled for the INDECOM office in Kingston. Further, he testified that on the day of the meeting enquiries were again made about Brown’s lawyer but that the defendant contended that he had no issue with the meeting proceeding in the absence of counsel.
In respect to two other meetings that INDECOM had with Brown while he was in custody at Up Park Camp, Campbell conceded that the officer had been interviewed in the absence of his lawyer.
Earlier yesterday, Campbell recounted shocking details which he said Brown revealed about the operation of the special police squad which was mandated to “sort out badman”.
During his testimony, Campbell told the seven-member jury that Brown not only told him the names of the members of the squad, but told him that a senior officer supplied the team with motor vehicle upkeep, ordinary shotguns, and keep-and-care M16 rifles.
When questioned about the policy regarding the rifles, Campbell said it was not policy for the weapons to be issued on a keep-and-care basis.
The INDECOM official also told the court that Brown revealed that his team would bring guns from the station and ‘plant’ it on the victims to cover up incidents of fatal shooting.
“He explained how they would make up the evidence in a meeting at the station to make sure their story was the same in explaining how the shooting took place,” he said further.
The witness also testified that Brown told him that his team had a special arrangement with the May Pen Police Station Criminal Investigative Branch (IB) for them to process the murder scene, and that it was also the CIB that had provided the team with guns.
Campbell, in explaining how the shootings occurred, said Brown told him during the first meeting that the extrajudicial shootings were done by two methods — undercover and as actual police officers. He said that that the team started out by going undercover but, under guidance of a senior officer, reverted to overt operations when suspicions were raised that police officers were involved in the killings.
The INDECOM witness also told the court that Brown confessed to shooting two of the men for whose murder he is now now on trial. According to Campbell, Brown made the revelation during their second meeting, and implicated a fellow cop who he said was with him at the time of the incident.
The trial will continue today with further cross-examination by attorney Godfrey.