By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A Supreme Court judge yesterday directed jurors to acquit a man previously accused of concocting a plot to have another man killed as part of gang warfare three years ago.
Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson instructed the jury to unanimously acquit Daran Neely of allegations he conspired to kill Woods Alley resident Kenyari Lightbourne in June of 2016.
Justice Grant-Thompson further ordered Neely’s ankle bracelet be removed and all recognisances entered into by the suretors for his $15,000 bail be officially discharged.
Neely’s acquittal came following submissions by his attorneys that he had no case to answer in the matter. His former co-accused, Sean “Fire” Brown and Jahmaro “Bingy” Edgecombe still have to answer to their respective charges, however.
On June 21, 2016, Lightbourne was shot multiple times while walking through his neighbourhood off Market Street. He died at the scene.
Neely and Edgecombe, the alleged gunman, were arraigned within months of each other in 2016 in connection with Lightbourne’s death. Brown was charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Evidence was previously led that Edgecombe killed Lightbourne not only in furtherance of a murder plot the Crown claimed was hatched by Neely, but because he and the deceased were gang rivals.
The jury watched a video in which Edgecombe admitted to killing Lightbourne because of his affiliation with the Mad Ass gang when initially interviewed by then Detective Constable Raphael Miller just three weeks after the incident in question.
During that interview, Edgecombe said he was after Lightbourne and several other affiliates of the Mad Ass gang, namely “Spider”, “Eyes”, and “Kadi”, with the promise that he could be paid $8,000 for killing any of them. Lightbourne ended up being the one he shot and killed that day.
Edgecombe further told the officer that Neely was the one who authorised the hit on Lightbourne’s life some days before the actual murder, and that Neely sent Brown to pay him the $6,000 for successfully executing the crime.
And after killing Lightbourne and cashing in on his reward, Edgecombe told police he “paid off some bills” with the blood money and distributed the rest to family members.
The matter continues. Racquel Whymms and Al-Leecia Delancy represent the Crown. Neely is represented by Wayne Munroe, QC, and Jomo Campbell; Edgecombe is represented by David Cash, and Brown by Nathan Smith.