De­tec­tive says seized guns were not ‘planted’ by the po­lice

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - By Paul Henry Ja­maica Ob­server

Ase­nior cop yes­ter­day tes­ti­fied be­fore the Tivoli En­quiry that weapons seized within and out­side Tivoli Gar­dens in the 2010 op­er­a­tion to ap­pre­hend then don Christo­pher ‘Dudus’ Coke were not planted by the po­lice.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Michael Phipps tes­ti­fied that none of the 141 guns re­cov­ered as a re­sult of the se­cu­rity forces’ op­er­a­tion had pre­vi­ously been in the cus­tody of the po­lice.

The se­nior de­tec­tive said that all guns re­cov­ered prior to the event were specif­i­cally marked, and that the foren­sic depart­ment would have re­alised if guns pre­vi­ously re­cov­ered were turned in again.

Phipps gave the ev­i­dence in re­sponse to ques­tions from com­mis­sion mem­ber Pro­fes­sor An­thony Har­riott.

A re­port by the Of­fice of the Pub­lic De­fender had said that the en­quiry needed to look into whether or not weapons re­cov­ered by the po­lice, prior to May 2010, were placed in West Kingston to give the im­pres­sion that they were be­ing used by gun­men dur­ing the op­er­a­tion to ap­pre­hend Coke.

Mean­while, Phipps said that the weapons were still be­ing tested to de­ter­mine if they are linked to any crimes lo­cally and that work was be­ing done with Ja­maica’s in­ter­na­tional part­ners to de­ter­mine if any of the weapons were used to com­mit crimes in their re­spec­tive coun­tries.

Phipps said that of the 141 guns re­cov­ered, 30 were found out­side the West Kingston area. He said that they were still in­cluded in the num­ber of guns re­cov­ered be­cause in­tel­li­gence had led the po­lice to be­lieve that they were be­ing used by gun­men in the defence of Coke. He also said that 7,049 as­sorted rounds of am­mu­ni­tion were seized, as well.

Phipps tes­ti­fied that Coke wasn’t of much help to de­tec­tives who wanted to know how he es­caped Tivoli Gar­dens in May 2010.

Phipps, who was be­ing ques­tioned by at­tor­ney Pe­ter Cham­pag­nie for the Ja­maica Defence Force, said that he in­ter­viewed Coke on June 23, 2010 at the Up Park Camp, fol­low­ing his ar­rest that same month.

Phipps said that he asked Coke how he man­aged to leave Tivoli Gar­dens and if he left the com­mu­nity to avoid ar­rest. “Same an­swer. Same an­swer,” Phipps said Coke re­sponded, mean­ing that he would not an­swer the ques­tions on the ad­vice of his at­tor­neys Tom Tavares-Fin­son and Ge­orge Soutar, QC.

Coke had also re­fused to say whether he was dressed in army fa­tigue on May 24 or 25. He said when asked his oc­cu­pa­tion, Coke said he was a busi­ness­man.

Phipps tes­ti­fied ear­lier that Coke an­swered the most ba­sic ques­tions, such as his name and ad­dress, among other things, out of a to­tal of 182.

Mem­bers of the press are given a tour of Tivoli Gar­dens by po­lice and sol­diers fol­low­ing the May

2010 op­er­a­tion.

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