DESCRIBING her behaviour as "reprehensible, to say the least", the Court of Appeal has upheld the obscene language conviction and sentence of the daughter of a former High Court judge.
Justices of Appeal Paula-Mae Weekes and Alice Yorke-Soo Hon said it appears that Vanessa Maraj considered herself to be above the law by virtue of being the daughter of a former judge.
"We pause to note the irony," Weekes said yesterday.
Maraj was arrested by PC Lauren Hutchinson on March 27, 2009 and charged with making use of obscene language and resisting a police officer in the execution of his/ her duty.
She was found guilty of both offences and, on the first charge, was fined $200 and in default of payment, serve a term of four months simple imprisonment.
On the second charge, she was fined $2,000 and in default of payment, serve a term of four months simple imprisonment.
The evidence was that Hutchinson, who was dressed in plain clothes and off duty, was in the car park of Hi-Lo supermarket in St Ann's when she heard Maraj saying loudly: "F--k you, yuh mudda c--t!"
Maraj, who was holding the hand of a young boy at the time, repeated the words.
She was approached by Hutchinson who identified herself and asked Maraj to desist from using that kind of language in the presence of a young child.
Maraj responded: "You glad you are a police. F--k you."
She was arrested but pulled away, saying: "Do you know who I am? I am Justice Sonny Maraj's daughter. F--k you," and continued walking into the supermarket. Hutchinson followed her and held on to her but was told: "You feel you Amazon, yuh c--t."
Maraj refused to enter the police vehicle and had to be forced to do so. She was taken to the Belmont Police Station.
In her defence, Maraj admitted she was at the Hi-Lo car park with her six-year-old nephew. She said a black SUV had swerved around the corner and she exclaimed for fear that she and her nephew would be knocked over. She denied using obscene language and maintained she merely said: "Oh my God, that flipping car almost ran into us."
Maraj said she asked Hutchinson to identify herself but the officer refused to do so. She said her nephew started to cry and Hutchinson shouted at him to be quiet.
Maraj said when he did not settle down, Hutchinson agreed to accompany her back to the car to leave the boy with his mother.
She said she spoke with her father on her cellphone and voluntarily made her way to the police station.
Having been found guilty by the magistrate, Maraj appealed the conviction and sentence.
Weekes, in delivering the ruling, said one may consider the offence before the court trivial in nature, by reference to the penalties imposed by law.
"The appellant's (Maraj's) conduct was reprehensible, to say the least. In particular, the use of expletives in the presence of a young child by someone of the appellant's standing is more grievous." —Keino Swamber