A Moruga man was awarded $40,000 yesterday by a San Fernando High Court judge after the man successful argued a case of wrongful arrest and imprisonment against the State.
Onnell Dyer, 29, was one several people who have sued the State after being arrested during the limited State of Emergency in 2011 amid an alleged plot to assassinate then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Justice Vasheist Kokaram awarded Dyer, 29, the sum for the 34 days spent in a cell at the Maximum State prison.
In a 12-page judgement, Kokaram stated that issues in the case included whether there was reasonable cause to charge Dyer with the offence of being a member of a gang. The State had, after his 34 days in prison, discontinued any charge against him. Other issues were whether there was reasonable cause to lay the charge under the Anti Gang Act and whether prosecution was motivated by malice. Attorney Kevin Ratiram argued the case for Dyer before the judge and led evidence from him on the witness box. The judge stated that Dyer was soft-spoken during cross-examination by the State attorney. He confirmed that he had charges pending against him for marijuana. He further confirmed that he was charged in the past for kidnapping, obscene language and receiving stolen goods.
Kokaram stated that Dyer denied he was affiliated with certain persons and was part of a ring involved in selling drugs. Kokaram in his ruling said when the case was dismissed in the magistrates’ court, Dyer was subjected to ridicule by friends who told him he was a gang member and a “gangster boy”.
Kokaram ruled however, that the conditions Dyer endured are not in the extreme as in other cases. The main damage suffered would be loss of liberty without justification. In the circumstances, Kokaram awarded Dyer $40,000 in general damages.