A HIGH COURT judge yesterday awarded an Arima man more than $300,000 in damages after he brought action against the State, claiming he was wrongfully arrested and prosecuted for a larceny offence.
Justice Devindra Rampersad, presiding in the San Fernando High Court, awarded the money to Marvin Johnson, 37, saying that after listening to the evidence in the matter, the officer who laid the charge “made the target of a deliberate attempt to fabricate evidence against him (Johnson) and to tarnish his reputation”.
Johnson had filed action against the State for his arrest in March of 2004. He stated that after his arrest, he was made the stay in an unsanitary cell at the La Horquetta Police Station and was also made to endure six weeks at the Golden Grove prison in Arouca after he was unable to secure his bail bond.
The matter was called 20 times at the Arima Magistrates’ Court, with the charging officer, PC Mark Maharaj, attending only six to seven times before the matter was dismissed on September 14, 2007.
In his evidence, Maharaj stated he had reasonable and probable cause for arresting Johnson and later charging him for the offence.
He stated Johnson confessed to committing the offence, after which he was charged.
Maharaj said at the time of the alleged confession, he was not in possession of a pocket diary but instead a personal diary, wherein he made a note of the confession. However, Maharaj said he misplaced the diary and therefore could not present it in court.
In his 27-page judgment, Rampersad said: “It is unacceptable for the officers to hide behind the allegations of the alleged loss of the station diary and of their personal diaries, and to come to court and to also allege the loss of the prosecution file containing the alleged written confession, and yet subject the claimant to the added burden of going through this civil case, not withstanding the fact that not one shred of real evidence could be relied upon or produced by the officer to vindicate his decision to bring the charges against the claimant.
Johnson was awarded $240,000 as damages for malicious prosecution with interest at the rate of six per cent per annum from August 9, 2011, exemplary damages in the sum of $45,000 and the prescribed costs of the claim quantified by the court in the sum of $53,333.70.
He was represented by attorneys Gerald Ramdeen and Varun Dabideen, while Keisha Prosper and Tracy Mae Brassington represented the Office of the Attorney General.