Bling: Bermuda’s gangsters have flaunted their wealth on Facebook. *File photo
Bling: Bermuda’s gangsters have flaunted their wealth on Facebook. *File photo
Gang members are helping to convict themselves by posing with weapons and bragging about their exploits on cell phones and the web.

A combination of egos and modern technology is proving a valuable tool in the fight against gang crime, say experts.

Prosecutors are increasingly using Facebook photos, cell phone videos and even jewellery to draw links between defendants and gangs in shooting cases.

Alvone Maybury, 24, found guilty yesterday of a brazen shooting on a city street, helped seal his own fate thanks to videos on his BlackBerry showing him posing with a gun and threatening “Parkside n****s”.

His lawyer, Llewellyn Peniston, yesterday criticized the decision to allow the videos to be shown in court.

He said: “I don’t believe circumstantial evidence showing loose gang ties should go before the jury. It’s like saying a medallion or something like that is hard evidence of gang links.

“I wear a cross around my neck but it does not mean that I am Christian.”

But painting suspects in gun cases as gang members is increasingly common in Bermuda — and if prosecutors can show it is relevant to the case it is admissible in court.

Last month, a BermyNet picture of Anthony Swan making hand gestures was used to associate him with the 42 gang and helped convict him of a shooting attack on Raymond ‘Yankee’ Rawlins.

Earlier this year, prosecutors drew attention to jewellery bearing the ‘42’ insignia to help build a case against Cervio Cox, who was jailed for seven years for allowing his car to be used as a getaway vehicle in a shooting.

There is no specific anti-gang legislation in Bermuda.

Evidence

But prosecutors are allowed to use evidence of gang membership to help build their case.

 “There’s nothing mystical to it,” said Charles Richardson, a defence lawyer who has worked on several shooting cases.

“If somebody displays behaviour that is associating them with a gang they can expect it to be used against them.”

The use of apparently circumstantial evidence to help build a case is a fairly new phenomenon here. It is thought to be a by-product of the increasing organisation of the island’s gangs, as well as the growing habit of criminals flaunting their allegiances on the internet.

Mr. Richardson said: “It is come into being as a result of the fact that many of these shootings are being put under the rubric of gang-related crime.”

The Bermuda Sun reported earlier this year about the growing trend of ‘gangsters’ showing their ‘colours’ on Facebook.

Some list their employer as Parkside crew, others exhibit pictures of firearms or cash and drugs along with jewellery identifying them with gangs.

Some experts feel the unchecked egos of Bermuda’s gang members could be their undoing.

Facebook

Mark Pettingill, a defence lawyer and crime spokesman for the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, said a post on Facebook, a picture on BermyNet or from a BlackBerry, could be considered fair game for prosecutors if they could help establish a connection to gangs.

He added: “The key is that it has got to be relevant and it has got to be probative, in that it has to have some evidential value to the case.

“If you are alleging that someone has committed an act because of a gang rivalry then certain circumstantial evidence that links them to a gang is relevant.”

Mr. Pettingill said defence lawyers could object to the evidence if the chances of it prejudicing their client’s right to a fair trial outweighed the evidential value.

Attorney General Kim Wilson said Bermuda had decided not to introduce direct legislation banning gang membership, which has proved ineffective and difficult to enforce in areas such as the Cayman Islands.

“In some jurisdictions, pure membership of a gang is the offence. We don’t have that here.

“What the Crown has been doing is using expert evidence to establish links between a defendant and a particular gang.

“That evidence can be admitted to satisfy a variety of evidential purposes such as joint enterprise, lifestyle or even a motive.”

Chief Inspector Nick Pedro, head of the serious crime unit, said police are taking a “holistic” approach to building a case.

He added: “The jury wants to see a motive for the crime.

“We have spoken a lot about gang retaliations and certainly we are having to show why person A shot person B. We’ve seen that one shooting begets another with rival gangs.”