Judge threatens Trinidad Top Cop with contempt

Fank Seepersad

(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.

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