(Trinidad Guardian) The State has accepted liability in a malicious prosecution lawsuit in which a pundit complained that the police fabricated criminal charges against him.
Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh was informed of the State’s position by State attorney Coreen Findley when the matter came up for trial on Friday in the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain.
The judge entered the consent order in favour of pundit Deodath Balliram. Balliram was charged with assaulting an employee by beating her and resisting arrest following an incident at a clothing store on High Street, San Fernando on January 7, 2010.
According to court documents, Balliram had a dispute with the manager about him giving away his $50 discount cards.
He said she also threatened to have him locked up. Balliram insisted he could do what he pleased with the cards because they belonged to him.
He said the manager left the store and returned with two police officers. Shortly after, two more police officers arrived. He said one of the officers started questioning him about the discount cards. Balliram claimed the officer ordered him out the store, grabbed his hand and began dragging him towards the exit.
The officer, however, released him after another officer intervened. Balliram claimed he went to the store to purchase a pair of pants. He said he and the manager engaged in dispute about the price of the pants.
Court document stated Balliram insisted that the price of the pants as stated on the price tag was $230. However, he claimed the manager claimed that was an “old price” and that the actual price was $349.
Eventually, Balliram said the officer arrested and charged him. He complained that he was placed in a small filthy cell with six other men with nothing to sit or lie on, and a hole in the ground for a toilet. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. The matter went to trial before San Fernando Magistrate Taramatee Ramdass who upheld a no case submission by his attorney Kevin Ratiram in September 2013.
Balliram said the charges caused him emotional stress and anxiety and he was subjected to ridicule and humiliation.
He also complained that the number of religious ceremonies he was asked to perform decreased significantly after the incident.
Prior to the incident, he had never been charged with any criminal offence. The pundit asked for compensation for malicious prosecution, interests and reimbursement of his legal costs.
Ratiram informed the judge that they were engaged in discussions regarding compensation and requested additional time to continue negotiations. The parties will return to court on April 3. Attorney Dianne Katwaroo also represented the State.