(Trinidad Guardian) A truck driver was awarded $170,000 plus interest after he was wrongfully arrested and detained by police in 2015.
On June 15, 2015, Dipchand Samnarine was awakened at his home at No. 13 Maharaj Trace, St Mary’s Village, South Oropouche and taken into custody by five police officers, in relation to a container he delivered from SM Jaleel & Company Limited’s South Oropouche to Arouca.
Dipnarine told the officers that he was dispatched by Ramdass Transport Company as a driver to go to SM Jaleel to deliver soft drinks to a mini-mart in Arouca.
Dipnarine then spent over a week in jail, until he was released on June 22, 2015, without being charged. He claimed during that time he was not able to see “any family member nor obtain legal representation during the period of his detention despite his repeated requests.”
He claimed he was told by police that the container he transported to the East was stolen from SM Jaleel and that ‘someone in the east’ asked the employees of SM Jaleel to steal the container for the purpose of packaging and trafficking drugs to the United States.
Justice Joan Charles ruled on Friday, “The arrest and detention of the claimant in circumstances where there was no reasonable basis to ground a suspicion that he did anything other than drive a trailer to which a container was affixed in the course of his employment must be condemned. A citizen must not be deprived of his liberty, and certainly not over such a long period, without any reasonable or probable cause.”
She added that the officer who lead the investigation “did not make a minimal inquiry to provide a reasonable basis for his suspicion that the claimant was part of a joint enterprise/conspiracy to steal a container for use in the export of/trafficking in drugs before arresting him. There was no verification that the container was stolen from SM Jaleel or whether the latter company had retained Ramdass Transport to provide a driver and trailer to deliver a container to the mini-mart in Arima – which was critical information needed before arrest of the claimant on the 15th June 2015 or his continued detention after 16th June 2015.
Dipnarine was represented by Alana Rambaran, Ganesh Saroop instructed by Robert Abdool-Mitchell of Freedom Law Chambers.
Natoya Moore represented the State, along with Kendra Mark and Kadine Matthews.