Career witness?

A self-styled car dealer who claims that he was hired by Portland businessman Everton “Beachy Stout” McDonald to douse his wife Tonia with “black acid to dismantle her” because she cheated on him, was on Friday painted as a career police informant who, in doing business with members of the criminal underworld, was routinely used by the police to testify in court matters.

The prosecution witness, who initially took the stand Thursday afternoon during the ongoing trial at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston, testified that he met with McDonald on three occasions between 2019 and 2020 and received $60,000 to purchase the liquid to carry out the “mission”. He, however, claimed that he aborted the mission because Tonia “was too beautiful”.

The St Catherine man claimed that in abandoning the effort, he called a cop he knew as a friend, told him about his experience, and further went to the police station and handed over the bottle of acid. He said he then accompanied the cop to the supermarket where Tonia worked, pointed her out to him, told him about the plot McDonald had, and left Portland.

On Friday, McDonald’s defence team, in attempting to discredit the witness’s evidence, took him to task about his admissions on Thursday that he had been charged for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and robbery with aggravation and was in custody in May 2020 prior to this trial.

The witness, in responding, said he had pleaded guilty to the lesser charges under a plea agreement since this year and had been let off.

Attorney Ryan Jon-Paul Hamilton, taking the first jab at the witness, said, “So you are in fact also a professional witness?”

Hamilton, ordered by trial Judge Justice Chester Stamp to “Break down that question into something more digestible”, said, “In the course of you buying and selling motor vehicles, you would do business with people involved in criminal activity and you are aware that were involved in criminal activity?” to which the witness replied “Yes, sir”.

He admitted under further questioning that he had a prior conviction in 1999 which, he said, he had forgotten because he has “high blood pressure [and] can’t put everything on [his head].

“I have to take nine tablets every day,” he told the attorney.

Asked by Hamilton whether he assisted the police “from time to time when criminal cases are to be made out”, the witness said “I disagree”. However, when pressed further he said, “Sir, a have to work with the police.”

But he took umbrage when the attorney went further to suggest that he had been working with cops for a “quite a long time”.

“Like how long, sir? A you a tell me, sir, I don’t know,” the witness said before later conceding under further probe that “Sir, if I am asked to assist, I assist”.

That line of questioning was, however, discontinued after the trial judge, in commenting that “everybody should give assistance to the police”, instructed Hamilton to move on.

In the meantime, asked if he had been involved in criminal activity for more than 20 years, the witness replied, “No sir”. He, however, admitted to questions about his criminal past with almost nonchalant ‘yes sirs’ interjecting at one point that “Beachy Stout is a criminal too”.

He maintained his stance that he did not intend to carry out the order to mar Tonia’s visage with the corrosive substance even though he went to lengths to source it.

“Sir, it’s all about money making, sir; I wasn’t going to do it,” he said.

The witness, in the meantime, was dismissive of the attorney’s efforts to paint him as someone who had benefited from a deal in exchange for information. He insisted that while he had been approached by a cop to give evidence against McDonald while he was in custody in 2020 for other crimes, he had given the statement of his own volition and had acquired and paid for an attorney to defend him on those charges independently.

Told by Hamilton that he had never met McDonald and had never collected any money from him for any reason, the testy witness replied, “So weh yuh a tell mi seh? A lie mi a tell pon Mr McDonald, I disagree”.

“You are here giving evidence because of promises made to you,” Hamilton said, to which the smirking witness replied “Disagree”.

He, however, told the court that while in custody he had spoken to a cop and told him of McDonald’s plot.

Taking the stand on Friday, the said cop, who said he had spent 35 years and two days in the constabulary and has investigated some 2,000 matters, told the court that he knew the witness and considered him a ‘friend’, even though he had arrested and charged him for larceny in the past.

“He is somebody who will talk, and if I have something to do I can ask him to go purchase it and come back, and at times I also receive information from him against perpetrators involved in criminal activities,” the detective corporal testified.

The veteran cop also corroborated the witness’s statement that he had turned over the bottle of what he said was black acid to him and told him the plan as well as accompanied him to the supermarket where Tonia was working. The lawman, who said he, on that occasion, had introduced himself to Tonia, told the court that he had been unable to get the car dealer to make a formal statement as he claimed to have been fearful for his life.

He said because of the absence of this statement he had been unable to label the item as an exhibit or submit it to the State forensic lab for testing. The veteran cop said he later gave two statements of his own to the investigators into the murder of Tonia.

The cop, under further questioning from attorney John Jacobs, refuted suggestions that he was in the habit of fabricating statements and that the car dealer was called in as part of a conspiracy on the part of cops to take McDonald down. Jacobs took the policeman to task over the omission from the statement of the customary declaration indicating that the contents had been read over and were the truth. The detective corporal, however, pointed out that it was the responsibility of the cop taking the statement to ensure that the declaration was made in writing.

McDonald and his co-accused Oscar Barnes are on trial for the July 20, 2020 murder of Tonia, whose partially burnt body was found on the Sherwood Forest main road in Portland with multiple stab wounds.

McDonald is accused of ordering the murder of Tonia, while Barnes, who was allegedly hired by another man, Denvalyn Minott, is accused of committing the actual murder.

The two were married for eight years, up until Tonia’s slaying.

Tonia is the second wife of McDonald to be murdered. The probe into her killing resulted in the investigations into the death of the first wife of the businessman being reopened. McDonald is to stand trial for her killing at a later date.

The matter will resume on Monday at 10:00 am.