The brother of shooting victim Jackson Rainford last week identified Tareek Ricketts as the man who came up to their car and fired the fatal shots on the night of Sunday, 16 December 2012.
Che Rainford was one of the first witnesses in Ricketts’ murder trial, which began last Monday before Justice Alexander Henderson and a jury of four men and eight women.
He did not know the defendant’s name at the time of the shooting, but an officer responding to the scene said Mr. Rainford described the gunman and said he was having a relationship with his brother, Jackson’s wife.
Che Rainford told the court he had never been introduced to Tareek Ricketts, but he had seen him at a friend’s house and at a school Christmas concert on 14 December. He had also seen a picture of him with the woman who was married to his brother Jackson.
On the night of the shooting, he said he was in the driver’s seat and his brother was in the front passenger seat when they stopped at a Shedden Road address because they had given a ride home to Terina Tomlinson and her two children. He said his brother had been seeing Ms Tomlinson.
The jury already heard that Tareek Ricketts was father of Ms Tomlinson’s children, but the couple stopped being together earlier in 2012 and she met Jackson Rainford later in the year.
In opening the case, Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards told jurors, “In effect, both couples had switched partners.”
Questioned by Ms Richards and defence counsel John Ryder, Mr. Rainford said that when they first arrived at Ms Tomlinson’s residence, she said her baby-father was walking toward the car, so he should keep driving. He did not see anyone at that time, but he drove off. His brother told him to go to Banana Walk. After a short time, they drove back to Ms Tomlinson’s residence and stopped.
A man he did not know (later identified as Dale Vernon) helped Ms Tomlinson with the children. As they neared the house, he saw a man walking toward the car, which had its windows down. The man had on a black hoodie, but Mr. Rainford said he did not remember what colour pants.
He could not see the man’s hands, as they were in the jacket pocket, but he could see his full face. When the man reached his brother’s side of the car, he put his hand inside the door and started to shoot. Mr. Rainford said he could see a dark gun in the man’s hand. After about three shots were fired, Mr. Rainford said he opened the driver’s door, jumped out and ran toward the stop lights near Cotton Club.
He said he heard one gunshot fired at him, but it missed. He tried to stop a car for help but four cars passed him. A pick-up truck stopped and that driver’s phone was used to call 911.
Ms Tomlinson began her evidence last Monday. She explained how she continued to see Mr. Ricketts after they were no longer together. He would come to pick up the kids for school in the morning, and he was friends with a man who lived in the house in front of hers.
At one stage she found it difficult to continue and Justice Henderson gave her time to compose herself. That was when the jury first heard from Che Rainford. When Ms Tomlinson returned to the witness stand, a screen was erected so that only the judge, jurors and attorneys could see her. Justice Henderson explained that the screen was there to alleviate some of the anxiety she had about testifying in the courtroom.
Ms Tomlinson said that on Sunday, 16 December, she was home with the children and had communication with Mr. Ricketts. She said he asked where she was going and she replied that she wanted to take the children to the beach or something. She asked if he would come, but he never gave her a straight answer. Then he asked if she was going to call Jackson Rainford to go to the beach with the kids. She replied that she and Che Rainford had plans to go on the beach.
Ms Tomlinson told the court that Che Rainford eventually picked her up. They dropped the children at her brother’s house and ended up at the Rainford home. Jackson, his mother and sister were among those present.
While there, she said, she had a call from Mr. Ricketts. He was asking where his kids were and he wanted to see them. She said she had them. He asked where she was and she told him she was by her father’s. She said that “because I never want him to know where I was because it was none of his business. He told me I was lying.”
Ms Tomlinson said she then told him where the kids were and she would get them soon and he could see them when he came to pick them up in the morning.
She got in the car with Che Rainford, who was driving, and his brother, who was in the front passenger seat. They picked up the children and went straight to her home. On the way, she noticed three men sitting on the wall of the church beside her house.
She could not see who they were because it was dark. Then the car stopped and she saw one of the men walking toward her. She could not see who it was, but then the person got into the light and it looked like Tareek. “I could see his face. He looked upset.” He was wearing a black hoodie jacket.
Ms Tomlinson said she told Che Rainford to drive “because I don’t want me and my baby-father to have any problems.”
They went to Banana Walk for a few minutes. It was after 10pm when they got back to her house. She saw Mr. Ricketts’ friend Dale Vernon in the yard. He helped one of the children out of the car and started walking with the children to her house. She was still in the car looking for her keys. When she found them, she walked away from the car.
Then she turned around and saw someone with a black jacket with the hood over his head and a silver gun in his hand walking toward the car. She did not see the person’s face – “just the same jacket Tareek had on, the person had on.”
She said she saw him walk up to the car and she ran to the door of her house. She thought she heard gunshot but she wasn’t sure. She ran into her home. Mr. Vernon was in front of her with the children.
She said she called her father to come and get her. She had tried to contact him from Banana Walk to come and get her so that Jackson and Che never had to come back in her yard, but she never reached him. It was at that point that they drove her back.
Ms Tomlinson said some time after 11pm Tareek Ricketts phoned her. He asked if the kids were OK because he had just passed Shedden Road and something was going on. She said they were OK.
Under cross-examination by Mr. Ryder, Ms Tomlinson agreed that after she and Mr. Ricketts split up, he stayed in close contact with the children, picking them up and collecting them from school every day, visiting them other times, supporting them financially.
He asked about Tareek Ricketts and Jackson Rainford being at the school concert and she acknowledge there was no trouble. On the Sunday she wanted to go to the beach, Mr. Ryder asked if Tareek Ricketts said that Jackson Rainford could take her. She said yes.
“It was no big deal?” he asked. “No, sir,” she replied.
She agreed there were no difficulties between the two men and Mr. Ricketts never argued with her about Jackson Rainford. She also agreed she was not afraid of Mr. Ricketts that Sunday night – she just never wanted him to know her business.
She also agreed it was quite natural to see Mr. Ricketts by the church with his friends, so when she saw someone who looked like Mr. Ricketts she thought it was him, but then she had a doubt. Asked if she really saw the gunman, she said yes, but did not see his features. She agreed she did not think it was Mr. Ricketts.
The attorney asked why she had said it was – “Are you torn between two families?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” Ms Tomlinson replied.