State asks judge to jail 'sick-leave' cop

THE State has asked a High Court judge to jail a former policeman for 18 months for tendering a false sick-leave certificate.

Nigel Ramlal, 39, of Point Fortin, was remanded on Wednesday morning for the second time by Justice Carla Brown-Antoine in the San Fernando High Court.

After a mitigation plea and the State's response, the judge announced that she will consider her sentence and deliver on December 5 in the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.

Thirteen years ago, Ramlal added a zero to a sick-leave certificate for six days, thus turning it into 60. He was charged with forgery and uttering a false document on July 25, 2006, at the Point Fortin Police Station. At the time, he was a constable stationed at Santa Flora police station.

State attorney Veonna Neale-Monroe led evidence from nine witnesses, including retired ACP Samuel Jemmott and Supt Kent Ghisyanwan, who heads the Anti Corruption Investigation Bureau (south).

Jemmott had testified that he noticed a zero had been added after the figure "6" and the letters "ty" to the word "six."

Brown-Antoine said she is considering a probation officer's report. Ramlal is a preacher at the Church of Christ.

Attorney Subhas Panday asked Brown-Antoine to punish Ramlal with 100 hours of community service. Ramlal's addiction to alcohol, he said, led him not to realise what he had done. He became a street dweller until he was "saved" by Church of Christ members.

Members of the church occupied almost the entire public gallery for the hearing.

Ramlal has been preaching at the church for the past five years.

One of the testimonials given to the judge was from a teenager from Cedros who wrote a letter saying Ramlal teaches him the Bible.

Neale-Monroe submitted, however, that two years in jail is the maximum penalty. She suggested a starting point of 18 months. And, the state attorney added, the aggravating factor is that Ramlal tarnished the name of the TT Police Service.

Brown-Antoine said she will consider all the factors against and in Ramlal's favour, but will be guided by the sentencing guidelines in cases adjudicated on by the Court of Appeal.

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