A Claxton Bay man who was on 11 charges for rape, kidnapping, larceny of a car, cellphones and jewelry theft and serious indecency has been awarded in excess of $425,000 for malicious prosecution.
Mark Hagley was charged in 2006 and six years later he was freed when the police officer who charged him failed to show up in court.
The police officer also failed to show up for Hagley’s civil trial against the State, which led to a High Court judge ruling in his favour and ordering that he should receive compensation for the damage to his character.
Hagley challenged his arrest and prosecution after he was eventually discharged in 2012 by a San Fernando magistrate when neither the police officer who charged him nor the witnesses cited by the prosecution gave evidence at the preliminary inquiry.
He went to court on 27 occasions and spent 37 days on remand at the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca before he was able to secure bail on the 11 charges.
The alleged offences were said to have occurred on September 25, 2005, while he was charged and taken to court on July 4, 2006.
In his lawsuit, Hagley maintained his innocence and said it caused him “real embarrassment” since he was arrested at his home in front of neighbours. He said people in the area still jeer at him, calling him thief, kidnapper and rapist.
Hagley said he also lost his job as a casual worker at Trinidad Cement Ltd and is afraid of the police locking him up again for anything.
“I hardly ever go out, as I get frightened whenever I see police officers around,” he said, adding that he did not trust any police officer.
At the trial before Justice Margaret Mohammed, the State offered no evidence, since the police officer who charged Hagley – PC Harrygin – also did not show up for the civil case. Attorneys said they were unable to find him.
Mohammed granted judgment in Hagley’s favour and ordered that he should be awarded damages, including aggravated and exemplary damages because of the serious nature of the 11 charges, which would have tarnished his character.
Interest and costs were also ordered to be paid by the State.