Published: Wednesday June 26, 2013 | 7:44 pm 8 Comments
Following today’s guilty plea by the accused in the 2012 gun attack on Kool 97FM broadcaster Jodi-Ann Gray, the Director of Public Prosecution, Paula Llewellyn has released a statement detailing the incident.
The accused – Wayne Whyte, also a broadcaster at Kool 97FM and another man Safari Farr – have been convicted for illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, and wounding with intent.
SEE DPP’s FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
The matter was set for trial on Tuesday, June 24, 2013 in the High Court Division of the Gun Court, held at King Street, Kingston before the Honourable Mr. Justice C. Daye. On that date the Crown indicated its readiness to proceed and the Defence team of Mr. Wayne Whyte, represented by Ms. Tamika Harris, made an application for an adjournment of the trial of the matter. This application was based on the absence of lead counsel for Mr. Wayne Whyte, Mr. Christopher Townsend, being engaged in a Murder Matter in the Circuit Court for the parish of Portland. The application for adjournment was strenuously resisted by me on behalf of the Crown, along with my colleague Ms. Yanique Gardener, Crown Counsel and the matter was adjourned to Wednesday, June 26, 2013 for its commencement.
Today, both accused, Mr. Whyte and Mr. Farr pleaded guilty to the above stated counts of the indictment. Ms Jodi-Ann Gray was present in the court room as the accused pleaded guilty and the Crown outlined the allegations.
OUTLINE OF FACTS
At the relevant time of this incident Ms. Jodi-Ann Gray, the complainant in the matter and Mr. Wayne Whyte were both employed to Kool 97 FM. Prior to this incident they embarked on an intimate relationship which lasted for a year. Ms. Gray knew that during their relationship Mr. Whyte was married; however he told her that he was separated from his wife. Consequent on their intimate relationship the complainant discovered that she was pregnant. When she informed Mr. Whyte he told her to get an abortion. She refused and Mr. Whyte stopped all communication with her for about seven (7) months.
In December of 2011 whilst pregnant she moved to a location in Portmore, St. Catherine to reside with a family member.
On January 29, 2012, after an outside broadcast for Kool 97 FM, Mr. Whyte transported Ms. Gray to her new residence in Portmore, St. Catherine.
On April 2, 2012, after seven months of not speaking, Mr. Whyte called Ms. Gray feigned concern and enquired about her well-being and her plans for the baby. Ms. Gray was not truthful to him in any of her responses because she was suspicious about his sudden interest in her and the baby he had previously had no concern for.
On Wednesday, April 4, 2012 sometime after 9:10pm Ms. Gray was driving her motor vehicle heading to her home in Portmore, St. Catherine. Whilst driving she received a text message from Mr. Whyte asking her if she was home and if she was going home before she left the island. This enquiry stemmed from the fact that previously she had misrepresented to Mr. Whyte that she would be leaving the island the following day April 5, 2012.
On arriving at her gate Ms. Gray saw a midnight blue Toyota corolla motorcar drive up beside her. A man then came out of this car (who was later identified as Mr. Safari Farr) and put a gun to the right side of her head touching it and she heard two clicks. Mr. Farr then moved the gun from her head, shaking and looking at it as if something was wrong with the gun. Mr. Farr then pointed the gun again at Ms. Gray followed by three (3) loud explosions sounding like gunshots. Mr. Farr then ran off and re-entered the Toyota Corolla which sped off. Ms. Gray then realized that she had blood all over her and was quickly assisted by her family member and other persons in getting the assistance of the police.
The police consisting of Woman Cpl Debby Rhoden, S/Cpl Tyrone Harvey and others were on duty at about 10:15pm when they received a report of the incident via Police Control. They hurriedly made their way to the scene. On arrival they saw a crowd of people and Ms. Gray who was waving frantically, asking for them to save her baby and whose face and clothes were covered in blood. They placed Ms. Gray in their service vehicle en route to the Spanish Town hospital.
During this travel they received information from Ms. Gray as it relates to the motor vehicle that the gunman had alighted from and re-entered after shooting her. On reaching the Gregory Park Main Road, they saw a blue Toyota Corolla travelling in front of their vehicle. In response to a question from one of the officers, Ms. Gray pointed out this Corolla to them as the same Corolla in which the gunman had travelled. The Corolla was immediately intercepted by the officers and its occupants were ordered to alight from same.
This car was observed driven by Mr. Whyte and two other occupants – Mr. X (who shall remain nameless due to him being a witness for the Crown) was seated at the front passenger seat and Mr. Safari Farr who was seated on the back seat.
On the interception of the police, Mr. Whyte exited the car and shouted out “mi a JP, mi a JP, a dem shoot har, shoot dem, shoot dem!” while the other two occupants appeared hesitant to exit the car. Cpl. Rhoden advanced towards the car, opened the front passenger door and pulled out Mr. X, who was shouting “a wey mi do, a wey dis fa.” Special Cpl. Harvey assisted in getting Mr. Farr out of the car.
Cpl Rhoden and another member of the team then proceeded with Ms. Gray to the hospital leaving Special Cpl Harvey and another member of the team behind. At this time Ms. Gray realized that the injury she had received was to her face. Cpl. Rhoden also observed that Ms. Gray was bleeding heavily through her nostrils and mouth.
On arrival at the hospital Ms. Gray received treatment for her injuries which were as follows:
– Gunshot wound to left nasal region (entry)
– Fracture of the hard palate
– Tongue was normal but floor of mouth oedematous and bullet fragment lodged in submental area (anterior neck).
– Gunshot wounds to right hand
Ms. Gray also received emergency surgery that morning to have the bullet lodged in her neck removed. This surgery was successful and the bullet was handed over to the Police for Ballistics testing.
At the hospital Ms. Gray also recalled that she had first seen this said blue Toyota Corolla motorcar driven by Mr. Whyte in December 2011 to a Kool 97 FM outside broadcast held in Kellitts, Clarendon. She further recalled that Mr. Whyte told her that this car belonged to his brother. She also saw the car that night whilst travelling along Hibiscus Drive parked two houses away from her house where she overtook it.
Mr. Whyte, Mr. Farr and Mr. X were taken to the Portmore Police station along with the car where they were handed over to the Investigating Officer, Det/Cpl. Noel Bryan.
On the 4th April 2012 at about 10:00pm the investigating officer commenced investigations into the matter. He proceeded to the scene of the shooting where he made certain observations. Scenes of Crime was contacted and the scene was processed. During their processing, they found, amongst other things, an expended bullet located on the front passenger seat of Ms. Gray’s car. This was handed over to the investigating officer. The investigating officer was then taken to the back of the Portmore police station where he was shown a blue 2002 Toyota Corolla bearing a licence plate made of paper with a licence plate number. The licence disc on the windscreen of said car was covered with a similar material.
The investigating officer then went back to the CIB office where Mr. Whyte indicated that he wanted to tell him what happened. Mr. Whyte was cautioned and the investigating officer sought the services of an attorney. Around 3 am.on the morning of April 5th in the presence of an attorney, a caution statement was recorded from Mr. Whyte by Detective Constable P. Brown. In this statement, Mr. Whyte though placing himself at the scene of the shooting, sought to absolve himself of any responsibility by claiming duress at the hands of Mr. Farr and another gentleman.
Later that same morning of the 5th the investigating officer visited the cells where Mr. X attempted to speak to him. He was stopped and cautioned and Mr. X said “Offisa me waan show yuh wey dem dash de gun.” The investigating officer and other police personnel took Mr. X to a location in Portmore where he pointed to an open lot but due to the fact that it was still dark the area was then secured by the police personnel with a view to having a proper search conducted in the daylight.
On Thursday, the 5th day of April 2012 at about 12:14pm the police went back to the open lot where a systematic search was conducted of the area by police personnel from the Caribbean Search Centre. This search revealed a .38 revolver with serial number erased containing two .38 rounds, on top of dry trash next to a wall fence. They further recovered a piece of the hammer beside the revolver and they observed an indentation in the wall about 3 to 4 ft from the ground where the firearm was recovered.
Ballistics report showed that the bullet extracted from Ms Gray’s throat matched the gun found in the open lot.
On April 06 2012 in the presence of the investigating officer and an attorney a caution statement was recorded from Mr. X.
On April 08, 2012 in the presence of the investigating officer and Mrs. Melrose Reid a caution statement was recorded from Mr. Farr. In his statement, Mr. Farr stated the following important points:
• He denied holding up Mr. Whyte whose name he doesn’t even know and taking him anywhere.
• There is no way he could have held up Mr. Whyte as he does not know him or Ms. Gray or the area.
• Mr. Whyte is the one who told him that he wanted Jodi killed as she is some form of threat to his work and “she is bringing him another guy down in the work”.
• Mr. Whyte gave the impression that Ms Gray and this other guy that she was bringing down were in a relationship and that guy took his life because of her actions.
• Mr. Whyte told him that Ms Gray got some men to rough him up, beat him up and threaten him that’s why he wanted her killed.
• Mr. Whyte has no money because of Jodi and he has to be begging and borrowing and so he wants her killed.
• He did not know that Jodi was pregnant, Mr. Whyte did not tell them this. He found this out when they were apprehended by the police and they were shocked.
• He didn’t really want to hurt Jodi, he had no reason to, he didn’t intend to hurt her he planned to bluff the shooting.
• Mr. Whyte got the gun and gave it to him and offered him $250,000.
• He intended to bluff the shooting and collect the money.
• He intended to go to car and fire a few shots, not to kill her.
• When he got back to the car, Mr. Whyte asked him if she was dead, make sure that she was dead. He told Mr. Whyte that he heard no sound in the car even though he heard her screaming. He told Mr. Whyte to move but Whyte kept on saying make sure. He told Mr. Whyte to leave, Mr. Whyte was lingering to drive off then eventually he did.
• When Mr. Whyte was carrying them over there Mr. Whyte said that “him will dweet himself but he doesn’t have the know how.”
• Encountered police, Mr. Whyte told him to throw the gun over an open land and he did.
• He knows nothing about the rewritten licence plate number
On the 11-04-12 the investigating officer brought the recovered firearm and ammunition along with the recovered expended bullets to the Government Forensic Laboratory for testing. The tests revealed importantly that the expended bullet that was lodged in Jodi-Ann and the expended bullet found in her car, both match the recovered firearm.
Having reviewed the file and sought advice from the Office of the DPP, the investigating officer then charged Mr. Whyte and Mr. Farr for the above-stated offences and cautioned them. Mr. Farr said “anything yuh can duh fi mi please do it, me have me youth a she mi a feel it fah.” Mr. Whyte said “offisa, what about the 3rd guy.”
On the 16th day of April 2012 the third man who had been in Mr Whyte’s car, gave a witness statement. In that statement he said the following:
• He knew both Mr. Whyte and Mr. Farr before this incident for many years.
• On the night of the incident between 7:30pm to 8:00pm he was at Harbourview near to where Safari lives. Whilst there Whyte came and looked for him and told him that he and Safari were going to Back Road. He entered Whyte’s car on the front pssgr seat. Safari then joined them in the car. They drove to Back Road and on reaching there Whyte said he had a catty to go link. Whyte drove until they reached a housing scheme in Portmore. Whyte was driving around for a while and then he saw a car drive up to a gate and stop. Whyte then said “Safari see the car there”. Whyte drove down to the car and stopped. At this time he was looking to see Whyte come out the car and was not aware that Safari had come out of the car. He then heard “click, click” and loud explosion sounding like gunshot. He then looked and saw safari with a gun in his hand, firing it at the person inside the car who was crying out. The person crying out sounded like a woman.
• Safari at the time was dressed in a black turban, white shirt with zip and a black kerchief over his face.
• He was telling Whyte to let him out of the car as the door was locked. Whyte told him to easy and stop bait up the thing, calm himself.
• Safari came back into the car and they drove off and ended up on a dead end road.
• When Whyte came out of dead end and was heading back they saw flashing blue lights and Whyte told Safari to throw away the gun.
• Whyte continued driving and was telling him to calm as he was still asking to be let out of the vehicle. Safari was saying to him “a bait yuh waan bait up the thing.”
• They encountered the police and were taken into custody.
• At the Police Station he told the police about the gun that was thrown away and took them back to where that was done.
The Office of the DPP would like to take the opportunity to commend the investigative team in this matter, led by Det/Corporal Noel Bryan of the Portmore Police Station for their hard work in bringing these men to justice. A special commendation is also extended to Corporal Debby Rhoden and her team for their swift response in apprehending these men and in helping to save the life of Ms. Gray and her unborn baby. The only matter remaining is that of their sentence which will be dealt on Friday, July 5, 2013.
Mr. Wayne Whyte is represented by Mr. Christopher Townsend, Ms. Tamika Harris and Ms. Kaysian Kennedy. Mr. Safari Farr is represented by Mr. Michael Jordan.
The Crown is represented by Paula Llewellyn, QC. along with my colleague Ms. Yanique Gardener, Crown Counsel. The judge is Mr Justice Courtney Daye.
Paula V. Llewellyn, QC
Director of Public Prosecutions
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