Brother of former Tivoli don ‘Dudus’ acquitted of gun-related charges
‘LEIGHTON ‘Livity’ Coke yesterday walked from the Supreme Court a free
man, setting off celebratory shouts of ‘freedom’ from scores of Tivoli
Gardens residents who converged on the King Street building where the
brother of their former don, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, had been on
About half an hour earlier, and mere minutes after Justice David Fraser
found Coke not guilty of gun-related charges, the crowds started
cheering wildly, breaking the relative quiet around the Supreme Court in
Soldiers and police personnel on the scene went on high alert in readiness for any eventuality.
The last time a Coke — Leighton’s father Lester ‘Jim Brown’ Coke — went
on trial at the Supreme Court in the 1980s, celebratory shots rang
outside the building as heavily armed gunmen hoisted the elder Coke on
their shoulders, following his acquittal on a murder charge.
But yesterday’s crowd of mainly women, though noisy, were not violent.
As Coke left the courthouse in a green sport utility vehicle with his
attorneys — Priya Levers, Carolyn Reid-Cameron and Chukwueneka Cameron —
people began appearing, as if from nowhere, waving frantically and
shouting over one another. The vehicle slowed as it drove onto King
Street, allowing supporters a glimpse of Coke, who waved back, before
the vehicle sped off.
Coke had been on trial since last year on allegations that he and other
men fired on the security forces during a joint police/military
operation to serve an arrest warrant on his brother in May of 2010.
He was arrested following Christopher Coke’s extradition to the US in
June 2010 to face drug and gunrunning charges. Christopher Coke will be
sentenced later this month in a federal court in New York after pleading
guilty to lesser racketeering charges.
The length of Leighton Coke’s trial in the High Court Division of the
Supreme Court was due partly to his alleged beating by soldiers in the
Horizon Adult Remand Centre in Kingston three months ago. The soldiers
claimed they were acting in self-defence.
Yesterday, Coke was freed after Justice Fraser, among other things,
rejected the identification evidence given by the police officers during
the trial that was closed to the public.
The 34-year-old Coke, who is the father of six children, had argued in
his defence that he was not in the community when the security forces
and gunmen waged battle in May 2010. The court, however, rejected this
defence, but also threw out the identification evidence on which the
police were relying.
Coke could have been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment had he been convicted.
Following his acquittal, Coke’s sister Sandy lauded the attorneys on the
case, telling the Jamaica Observer that the court has proven what was
known all along.
“The police fabricated the charges against him. We knew all along that he was not guilty,” she said