VYBZ Kartel will only be allowed to record music in prison if the Department of Correctional Services deems him fit to be
part of a rehabilitation programme, depending on his conduct, a former prison official told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was responding to questions posed by the Observer after Justice Lennox Campbell postponed to April 3 the sentencing of the deejay and his three co-accused — Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John — who were found guilty of the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams on March 20.
Justice Campbell postponed the sentencing after defence lawyers informed him that they had not received a letter he instructed the Supreme Court to draft and send to the prosecution and the defence.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn admitted receiving the correspondence.
Justice Campbell told the court that he wanted the assistance of both sides on sentencing guidelines.
He said the degree of participation of each convicted man in the murder would be important in his decision on how long they would be locked away in a penal facility.
“Sentences are not just clutched out of the air,” Justice Campbell said.
The judge said Llewellyn had made her recommendations and had pointed to sentences handed down in similar circumstances.
He referred to the case of singer Jah Cure (real name Sycatore Alcock), who recorded three albums while incarcerated at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, and wondered if, in the event that Vybz Kartel recorded music while he served his sentence, any proceeds made from those songs should go to Williams’ estate.
“In a previous matter, when a person was convicted who had some artistic talent certain things were done. It needs to be found out whether in fact it was open to the court for any of those proceeds gained could go to repairing any of the damage to the relatives of the deceased,” Justice Campbell said.
The Tower Street prison, popularly known as GP, is fitted with a fully operational recording studio and a low frequency radio station FREE FM, which broadcasts in the precincts of the prison.
In the case of Jah Cure, the proceeds of his songs were used to bolster the rehabilitation programme and he earned no money.
The prison authorities would have to ultimately make the decision for the victim’s family to be compensated from any recording released by the artiste while imprisoned.
Justice Campbell also wanted to find out if Williams’ relatives would be allowed to address the court before he handed down his sentence.
However Llewellyn, he said, informed him that it was not appropriate in the Jamaican jurisdiction.
Earlier, Kartel seemed composed as he awaited his fate in the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston. His demeanour was in stark contrast to two Thursdays ago when the jury handed down the guilty verdict.
After the judge announced the delay, Kartel’s attorney, Tom Tavares-Finson, said his client was maintaining his innocence although he had accepted the ruling of the jury.
“My client bears no ill will against anyone in this case. We are asking for no leniency. We put our faith in the justice system of this country and at an appropriate time we will seek justice,” he said.
The attorney said Llewellyn had ordered a probe into the way the investigation by the police had been carried out and was also seeking to change the manner of how evidence was handled in her office.
But Llewellyn denied Tavares-Finson’s claim.
“For the record, I ordered no such investigation,” she said.
When the court was adjourned, Tavares-Finson went on the offensive as he criticised what he described as Llewellyn’s about-face after she came out on the losing end in the Kern Spencer trial.
“The director of public prosecutions, in an unprecedented attack on the resident magistrate, has flown in the face of her ruling. I heard the director of public prosecutions on the radio questioning the ruling. It is unheard of, and I am wondering if this director of public prosecutions has gone off the rail,” he said.
On Monday, Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey upheld a no-case submission filed for Spencer and his co-accused Coleen Wright who were facing the court on corruption charges.
Close to the end of the 65-day trial, the relatives of the accused men were barred from court by police, but yesterday some of them were allowed inside the courtroom to hear what sentences would be handed down for the August 2011 murder of Williams, who police say was beaten to death at a house in Havendale, St Andrew, over the disappearance of two guns.
His body has not been found.