A HIGH COURT judge has ordered the state to pay to Couva bar owner and fisherman Darryl Bishop a little over $.3 million in compensation for his wrongful arrest under the Anti-Gang legislation during the failed 2011 state of emergency (SoE)
Businessman Darryl Bishop sued the state for malicious prosecution after he was arrested and charged with being a gang member on August 28, 2011.
The charge against Bishop was eventually discontinued against him by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, but not before he spent 45 days in prison as he was unable to access bail under the Bail (Amendment) Act of 2011 because of the gang charge.
In a ruling delivered yesterday, Justice Ricky Rahim found that Bishop was maliciously prosecuted by police, who, he said, had no reasonable or probable cause to charge him.
Rahim said although inferring malice from a lack of reasonable and probable cause was rare, he found that, on a balance of probabilities, Bishop demonstrated malice on the part of the police.
The state was ordered to pay to Bishop $250,000, with interest, in general damages for the humiliating and degrading circumstances of his arrest; $50,000 in exemplary damages for continuing the prosecution of him until October 12, when he was eventually discharged at the Couva Magistrates Court; and $10,000 in special damages to recover what was spent in hiring lawyers to represent him.
The judge said the arrest and prosecution of Bishop without sufficient evidence, subjecting him to unsanitary prison conditions and depriving him of his liberty, were "arbitrary, oppressive and unconstitutional."
"In fact it was odious. The arbitrary exercise of power by the state in this case was overwhelming and the court should send a strong message it should not, and will not, be tolerated in a free and democratic society with respect for the rule of law."
Bishop was represented by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Vijaya Maharaj and Nyla Badal, while Kelisha Bello appeared for the state.
In his lawsuit, Bishop said his denials that he was not a gang member were ignored by the police. He said as a proprietor of two bars in Couva and Carli Bay, his reputation was tarnished and his ordeal also led to a break-up of his relationship with his then common-law-wife.
He said he felt ashamed when he was arrested at his Balmain, Couva, bar, which was also searched and money seized.
In its defence, the state claimed Bishop - who had been arrested before on drug charges; one of which he was fined and the other dismissed - was known to police to be involved in illegal activities and the police officers who arrested him did so without malice or ill will and formed the opinion, based on information and personal observations, that he belonged to a gang.