(Trinidad Guardian) A High Court judge has threatened contempt of court proceedings against Police Commissioner Gary Griffith for failing to obey a court order.
This stems from a matter in which Justice Frank Seepersad ruled in October that former police commissioner Stephen Williams was wrong to ask a retired police corporal, who suffered a debilitating back injury at a police station, to repay $450,000 after his injury leave was retroactively reclassified. Although Seepersad ordered Griffith to correct his predecessor’s error, it was not immediately done.
When retired Cpl Ashram Pariagsingh’s case came up for hearing at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday morning, Seepersad gave Griffith an additional 14 days to comply and warned that if he fails to comply a second time, he might be liable for contempt.
“It would give the court no pleasure in sending the commissioner to the other place GG (Golden Grove),” Seepersad said.
While Seepersad criticised Griffith’s handling of Pariagsingh’s case, he still commended him for his crime-fighting efforts.
“The hands-on approach and operational involvement of the commissioner in the furtherance of a focused and resolute mandate to curb the unacceptable escalation of crime, cannot go unapplauded,” he said.
“The office, however, carries with it extensive administration functions which must also be discharged with adeptness, adroitness, alacrity and aplomb.”.
According to evidence in the case, Pariagsingh suffered the injury while he was assigned to the La Brea Police Station on May 8, 2012. He was walking at the back of the station when he slipped in a puddle of water caused by a leaking pipe.
However, Pariagsingh was investigated for making a false report after two of his colleagues claimed that he fell at a parlour near to the police station.
Seepersad ruled that in 2015 Williams placed undue weight on the evidence of Pariagsingh’s colleagues as opposed to the T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) disciplinary investigator, who cleared Pariagsingh of any wrongdoing. He also found that Williams had failed to properly consider all the evidence in the case.
“The Commissioner in his analysis paid insufficient regard in the fact that there was corroborative evidence that there was water in the area where the claimant said he fell and that the evidence suggested that there was a leak at the La Brea Police Station,” Seepersad said.
In addition to compelling Griffith to classify Pariagsingh’s leave as injury leave with pay, Seepersad also ordered the TTPS to release his $400,000 gratuity which was withheld after he retired at the end of his leave in 2016.
Pariagsingh was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, and Douglas Bayley, while Christian Chandler represented Griffith.