Trinidad truck driver awarded $170,000 for wrongful arrest

A member of the public makes his way into the Hall of Justice, yesterday.

(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.

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