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Tuesday 20 February 2018
Crime and Court

Prisoners to pay State for failed injuries claim

Justice Frank Seepersad.

Three prisoners who were hoping for compensation for injuries they claimed were inflicted on them by police officers at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain in 2014 will instead have to pay the State after they lost their case yesterday.

Justice Frank Seepersad, presiding at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, dismissed the lawsuits of John Phillips, Joel McHutchinson and David Noel, who each claimed they were beaten by police on September 25, 2014, as they were waiting in the prison cells at the Hall of Justice where they appeared in court.

They said they were waiting to be taken back to prison when another prisoner in one of the cells

began ‘making noise’ alerting officers that yet another prisoner was complaining of having a toothache.

The three prisoners said a group of ten masked police officers entered the cells and began beating them for no reason. They said they did nothing and were just waiting to be taken back to prison.

The men said when they arrived at the Maximum Security Prison, in Arouca, prison officers refused to accept them because of their injuries and they were taken to the Arima Health Facility where they were treated by a doctor.

In an oral ruling delivered yesterday following a one-day trial on Monday, Justice Seepersad found that the injuries the men complained of were not consistent with the medical reports submitted. He said based on their claim they should have had a lot more injuries.

In dismissing their case and ordering them to pay $14,000 in costs, Justice Seepersad said there was ‘ a disturbing tendency’ by some to view the State as a source of unlimited resources where ‘ unreasonable , illegal and or fraudulent demands’ were made. “The State owns no funds and a government acts as a trustee to administer funds that belong to the citizens of the Republic,” he said.

The judge added that the court was concerned about the frequency with which unreasonable and or unjustified claims were made against the state.

The men were represented by attorneys Mark Seepersad and Terrence Davis.

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