Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 11th 2014 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 11, 2014
A High Court judge has awarded
more than $300,000 in damages
to a 36-year-old plumber who sued
the State after spending six weeks
in prison on criminal charges that
were eventually dismissed.
In a 27-page judgment delivered
in the San Fernando High Court
yesterday morning, Justice Devindra
Rampersad ruled that the plumber,
Marvin Johnson, of Arima, had been
maliciously prosecuted by police
officers who had concocted evidence
"This court has noted that the
claimant was, for some inexplicable
reason, made the target of a delib-
erate attempt to fabricate evidence
against him and to tarnish his rep-
utation," Rampersad said.
Johnson was arrested at his home
on March 9, 2004. After spending
four days in police custody, Johnson
was eventually charged with breaking
and entering into two homes with
intent to steal.
When he appeared in court, he
denied the allegations and was ini-
tially denied bail. He spent six weeks
at the Remand Yard facility, Golden
Grove, Arouca, until he secured bail.
In September 2007, Magistrate
Melvin Daniel dismissed the charges
against Johnson after the com-
plainant in the matter, PC Mark
Maharaj, missed several court hear-
During the hearings Maharaj did
attend, the court heard evidence
that the station and pocket diaries
which contained details of Johnson s
arrest and the charges that were laid
against him had been misplaced.
During the case, Maharaj also
claimed an alleged confession from
Johnson had also gone missing.
In his judgment, Rampersad
described the missing documents
as unacceptable and said the issue
raised serious questions about the
bona fides of the officials respon-
sible. He suggested that such inci-
dents warranted investigation by the
He said: "The retention and main-
tenance of official records, such as
the diaries of officers who are under
a duty to make a contemporaneous
record of their activities and station
diaries and prosecution files, must,
to my mind, be seen as a serious
duty imposed upon the Police Serv-
ice in order to ensure transparency
and preserve public trust in the
He also criticised Maharaj, raising
multiple inconsistencies and
improbabilities that were found in
his evidence, including his handling
of evidence in larceny cases.
"It seems rather incredible that a
police officer, who is charged with
the responsibility of securing items
of evidence for use in criminal pro-
ceedings, could be as imprecise and
as unprofessional as this officer was
in giving evidence about the alleged
As part of the judgment, Ram-
persad awarded Johnson, $240,000
in general damages, with six per cent
interest calculated from the August
2011 when his lawsuit was filed.
He also awarded him $45,000 in
exemplary damages for the police
officer s fabrication of evidence
against him, as well as a little over
$50,000, which represented his legal
costs for bringing the lawsuit. He
was represented by Gerald Ramdeen
and Varun Dabideen.
In an interview at the T&T
Guardian s office yesterday after-
noon, Johnson said he was happy
to receive compensation but was
still traumatised by his experience
"It was like hell. It was the worst
six weeks of my life," Johnson said.
He said since the incident he has
had trouble sleeping because of reg-
ular flashbacks of his short stay in
"It was not easy. You have to fight
inside there to survive," Johnson
Asked about his feelings towards
the police after being framed for the
crimes, he said he was sceptical.
"It have good and bad police but
I don t trust any of them."
Keisha Prosper and Tracy Mae
Brassington represented the State.
After spending six weeks in jail...
Innocent man gets $300,000
JENSEN LA VENDE
The murder toll now stands at 22
with the shooting death of Avin
Maharaj s body was found about 60
feet off a track at Upper Mt Hope Road,
Mt Hope, in an area called "Tank Road."
Around 11.30 am yesterday residents
heard several gunshots and later found
Maharaj s body.
Officers from the St Joseph Police
Station arrived half-an-hour later and
his body was removed from the scene
at 4.45 pm.
Maharaj, 37, was positively identified
by his passport, which was in his pock-
et, police said. They said a newspaper
clipping about Maharaj being shot last
year was also found in his pants pock-
et.On December 15 last year, while
standing at the corner of Queen and
Henry Streets, Port-of-Spain, Maharaj
was shot in the hand by a gunman who
then ran away.
A 13-year-old boy, Hamid Rasheed,
was also shot in the arml during the
Police said they had no motive for
the killing as Maharaj was not known
thrown over precipice
Homicide and Crime Scene Unit officers inspect the passport of murder victim Avin Maharaj at the scene of
his murder at Upper Mt Hope Road, Mt Hope, yesterday. PHOTO: JENSEN LA VENDE
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