Former Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, today testified at the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry that Coke was fearful of turning himself in to local law enforcement agencies because his father, Lester Coke – who was called ‘Jim Brown’ — died while in the custody of the State.
Mr. Ellington testified that two prominent local pastors, Bishop Herro Blair and Reverend Al Miller, tried to encourage Coke to turn himself in peacefully.
But he says Coke told both of them he was unwilling to do so despite him giving assurance that he would not be harmed by the police.
Mr. Ellington says he also sent Coke a message that he could waive his right to a hearing in Jamaica if he was concerned about his safety in the hands of local law enforcement.
He says Reverend Miller came back with a particular message after he met with him in Tivoli.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ellington was pressed to disclose the name of the ‘government official’ whom he said had told him that Bishop Blair and Reverend Miller wanted to encourage Coke to surrender peacefully.
But he said he was unwilling to do so because the conversation he had with the ‘government official’ was confidential.
He said he did not want to breach that person’s trust, adding that there are security concerns.
But the Chairman of the Enquiry, Sir David Simmons, did not accept Mr. Ellington’s submission.
Sir David says he could understand the concerns five years ago.
He noted that former Prime Minister Golding has been very open with the Commission about interventions to get Coke to surrender.
He said the fact that former Commissioner Ellington did not want to disclose the name of the government official ‘bothered’ him.
But Mr. Ellington insisted that in his former capacity as Police Commissioner, he handled very sensitive information and had to keep certain material in confidence.
He said he would not want to identify the ‘government official’ unless the person appears before the Commission and gave him permission to do so.
Sir David says before the end of the week, he wants to hear arguments for the application made by Mr. Ellington and a determination will be made.