Crimes that Rocked the Nation – Dillinger

They called him 'Dillinger' and his name meant danger

Dillinger 
They called him ‘Dillinger’ and his name meant danger
IT was a name no one in western Jamaica dared utter in public, unless
you were a friend or part of the gang. People only had to say
“Dillinger” in the West, and women, especially, would reportedly pee
their pants, a Circuit Court jury was told during Glenford Pusey’s trial
for murder.
The late 60s, 70s and early 80s were years in Jamaica when crime was
rife, but little did we know then that our small country would, by the
year 2000, find itself on the world stage, sharing honours in
criminality with the likes of the Italian Mafia and the conmen of
Nigeria.
Pusey’s case, which came before Mr Justice Lopez and a jury in the No 2
Home Circuit Court in June 1970, was my first introduction to the
Witness Protection Programme at work in Jamaica.
The murder for which Pusey was charged was alleged to have been
committed on the evening of November 26, 1968. It was the prosecution’s
case that Pusey and three of his cohorts Skiba, Copper and another
man known as Sonah-Sonah held up, robbed and shot dead Anthony George
Lowe o/c “Frenchie”, a Chinese businessman well-known in Western
Kingston and its environs.
Lowe, who carried on business at the corner of Duff and Hamilton streets
in Kingston’s west end, was actually checking off the day’s sales when
Pusey entered the shop, armed with a revolver, and shot him in the groin
and lower back. Lowe died from injuries to the liver and right lung.
Pusey and Skiba made off with the cash register from Lowe’s shop, the court was told.
Lowe’s assistant, Maisie McLaren, who had been sweeping rubbish from the
shop when the incident took place, testified that she was just
re-entering the establishment when she saw Pusey, gun in hand, pointing
it in Lowe’s direction.
Pauline Evans, who told the court she resided on Duff Street, recalled
that she was returning from the Bustamante Hospital for Children where
she had gone to visit her sick child. She was walking along a lane near
Duff Street when she saw Skiba, a little boy and two others known to her
as Sonah-Sonah and Copper walking together.
Skiba had been her boyfriend at one time and she came to know
Sonah-Sonah and Copper as friends of his. As she was afraid of Skiba,
she ran into a nearby yard and concealed herself. From that vantage
point, she was able to see and hear what the men were saying.
She told the court she heard Pusey and Skiba planning “to hold up the
chineyman outta Duff and Nathan streets corner”. She heard Skiba ask
Pusey if his gun was good and Pusey replied that his gun “was kinda
sticking”. At that point, Skiba offered the use of his gun to Pusey but
the offer was not accepted.
I’m afraid his friends might shoot me

The little boy was sent by Pusey to see if the shop had yet closed. He
returned to report that a woman was inside still sweeping. According to
the witness, Pusey left to get a car, returning to inform the others
that he had arranged for the car to go to the White Street bridge. He
then announced they would “make a slide now”. Pusey and the others left.
Evans testified further that after the men left, she ran towards the
corner of Duff and Hamilton streets. She heard one gunshot, followed by
another. She saw Sonah-Sonah and Copper standing outside Bailey’s shop
at the corner of Duff and Nathan streets. The little boy was standing
nearby. She also saw Pusey and Skiba carrying a cash register away from
Lowe’s shop.
She gave a statement to the police. Later, at an identification parade,
she failed to point out Pusey as she was afraid “he would cause his
friends to shoot me”.
The court heard from Detective Superintendent Jezz Marston (now
deceased) that he led a police party to the premises on Spanish Town
Road on December 30, 1968. There, he saw Pusey sitting on a box. On the
approach of the police, Pusey sprang up and ran off. He then turned,
pulled a revolver from his waist and fired at the police party.
The police returned fire. Pusey was wounded and fell to the ground. The
weapon turned out to be a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver. It was later
examined by ballistic expert Jack Morris.
Morris gave evidence of having examined and compared the markings on a
bullet recovered by the police from inside the cashier’s cage at Lowe’s
shop, with test bullets fired from the Smith and Wesson revolver, and he
said he came to the conclusion that the .38 bullet had been fired from
that weapon.
Pusey’s defence was an alibi. He claimed that a Detective Corporal
Simpson had told him that since Evans and McLaren failed to identify him
in connection with Lowe’s murder, he would be charged with the murder
of another man known as “Beefman”, who had been killed on Duff Street.
He denied ever being in possession of a .38 revolver or that he had shot
at the police party at the time alleged.
Dillinger defends himself in court

An interesting twist to the case was that Pusey had been assigned legal aid under the Poor Prisoner’s Defence Law of 1961.
The counsel assigned Heslop Harris (now deceased) who had seen and
interviewed the accused at the General Penitentiary several times before
the trial, after which friends of Pusey had sought to retain lawyer
Churchill Neita to defend him, offering a small retainer of £10.
On the date of trial, Pusey informed the trial judge that he wished to
have a lawyer of his choice to defend him and no longer wished to have
Harris’s services. The judge advised Pusey that that course was fraught
with danger and an adjournment was taken. Neita, who was engaged in a
preliminary enquiry at the Half-Way-Tree Resident Magistrate’s Court,
was contacted by phone by counsel for the Crown.
In the meantime, Harris, who declared that he was never advised by Pusey
that he wished to have anyone else defend him, asked to be recused from
the case.
Counsel for the Crown related his conversation by telephone with Neita
during the adjournment. Neita, he said, had related what had taken place
between Pusey’s friends and himself, and disclosed that under the
circumstances, he was prepared to return the £10 retainer he had
received the previous Thursday. He conveyed Neita’s apology to the court
for not being present.
The luncheon adjournment was taken after the trial judge requested Mr
Harris to reconsider his request. On the resumption, the trial judge, in
addressing Pusey, said: “Well, Pusey, the position is this, that Mr
Harris has been assigned as your counsel to defend you from November 22,
1969. During the period between that date and now, he has on several
occasions interviewed you at the General Penitentiary to take
instructions. (At) no time have you objected to his retainer or
assignment and the case is now ready to proceed. And as the matter now
stands, he is the counsel on record to defend you in this matter. Do you
wish to have him defend you?”
Pusey: “I have already told my Lord.”
Judge: “You will answer the question I ask. [Do] you wish to have him defend you?”
Pusey: “No, my Lord.”
Judge: “Well, you will have to defend yourself. Mr Harris, you are
released. Thank you very much; you may consult the registrar in due
course.”
Pusey then proceeded to defend himself.
The accused, a young, articulate Rastafarian, gave a good account of
himself. He asked some very pertinent questions of prosecution
witnesses, especially the main witness Pauline Evans whom he
cross-examined for one hour and 45 minutes. Not being too familiar with
the Rules of Evidence, however, any gains in his favour were quickly
destroyed by his inexperience. Repeated warnings by His Lordship went
unheeded. His efforts, in the end, further cemented the prosecution’s
case.
In spite of his valiant effort, the five-foot three-inch defendant from the west was found guilty of Lowe’s murder.
Those were the days when Supreme Court judges donned the “Black Caps”
and the whole court would rise as the Court Crier, as it were,
sermonised the “OYEs”, prior to sentencing.
Thus it was on that day: “All rise!”
“Oye! Oye! Oye! All manner of persons, having anything to do or say at
this, Her Majesty’s Court of Assize, let them draw near and give their
attention and they shall be heard. While His Lordship, Her Majesty’s
Justice, passes the Sentence of Death upon the Prisoner — Oye! Oye! Oye!
God Save the Queen.”
‘Woman, behold thy son!’

With the packed courtroom of witnesses and observers having taken their
seats, His Lordship passed the sentence of death upon the prisoner, who
had the Allocutus put to him that is, if he had anything to say why
such a sentence should not be so passed.
Pusey’s response was: “I am innocent!”
It was one of those solemn moments that makes a person realise how
vulnerable we all are as human beings; how, in one stroke of the pen, a
life can be virtually taken away — no more freedom — from henceforth,
every move you make until the day of reckoning, determined by the laws
of the land, was to be choreographed, directed and edited by authority.
It is and always has been a piteous and pitiful moment, a moment in time
when the heart almost stops beating; when time stands still; when the
earth under one’s feet seems to take a mighty somersault, vanishes then
returns to settle, you think, underfoot once more, but you don’t believe
it’s really there. Someone, please wake me, you pray. But it’s not
about to happen.
This was what it seemed Pusey may have thought as he stood in the dock
that afternoon. He seemed not to hear, not to understand what had really
taken place. The two uniformed policemen behind him tapped him on his
shoulder, indicating it was time to go. He sighed, looked all around him
and moved slowly from the dock. Handcuffs were put on.
As he neared the door, his mother stood there, holding her belly, in
true Jamaican fashion, rocking from side to side and wailing loud and
heart-breaking sounds coming from deep down in the bowels of a mother.
Only mothers can describe what she might have been feeling.
Pusey paused when he reached his mother’s side. With head held high, he
said in a loud, distinctive voice:”Woman! Behold thy son!”
Following futile appeals, he was later hanged on the gallows at the St Catherine District Prison.
There are no winners in crime, only tragedy all around.
Post script:

Two things are noteworthy.
The chief witness for the prosecution, Pauline Evans, attended court
daily under heavy police protection. She was kept in a room next to the
Chambers of Justice Ronald Small, which, in those days, was reserved for
jurors when they retired to consider their verdicts. It was also used
to keep prosecution witnesses; and the police at that time would go over
their witness statements with them before they gave evidence.
I have noticed that that practice no longer exists. No wonder so many cases slip through the cracks.
As soon as the Dillinger trial was concluded, the witness being
protected was quietly whisked from the building into a waiting police
vehicle, transported to the Norman Manley International Airport and was
bound for countries unknown.
The second point is that Pusey’s appeal was argued by eminent Queen’s Counsel Frank Phipps and with him, attorney Richard Small.
ROC White, QC, deputy director of public prosecutions, and attorney C
Patterson appeared for the prosecution. Both prosecutors became Judges
of Appeal in later years. (White has since passed away).
The main contention on appeal, taken by counsel for the appellant,
Pusey, was that his constitutional right was contravened in that he was
denied the right to counsel of his own choice; and that the trial ought
to have been adjourned to enable the Appellant to engage the services of
counsel other than Neita, if Neita no longer wished to defend him.
But the Court of Appeal held that while each person who is charged with a
criminal offence must be permitted to defend himself by a legal
representative of his own choice, if he so desires, the trial of an
accused person cannot be delayed indefinitely in the hope that he will,
by himself, or otherwise, be able to raise at some indeterminate time in
the future, money sufficient to retain the services of counsel. For
those and other reasons, the court dismissed the appeal.
Next week: Aston ‘Whoppy King’ Jolly — a savage rape and a brutal murder.
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