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Arrested in school, in daughter's presence, man awarded $.4m for wrongful arrest, licks

A MAN who was arrested in front of his six-year-old daughter at her school, later beaten by police and incarcerated for more than three months before robbery charges against him were dismissed, has been awarded in excess of $400,000 by the court.

Akil Samuel, 38, sued the State for wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution and assault and battery.

In court documents filed by attorney Abdel Mohammed, Samuel said he was framed by the police, and is now fearful of police officers He said: “As a result of this incident, I have absolutely no trust or confidence in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and I don’t wish that this ordeal be done to anyone else, including my greatest enemy.”

It was on the morning of November 5, 2015, while attending a Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meeting and waiting to speak to the principal at her office, that three men in plain clothes approached and questioned Samuel.

He was then handcuffed in front of his daughter, who cried and shouted: “Where you all taking my daddy?”

Upon his arrest, he was told he was wanted for several robberies in the southern district. Samuel continuously stated his innocence, but was placed in a marked police vehicle in full view of parents, teachers and primary school pupils, and then taken to Point Fortin Police Station.

Samuel said while he was embarrassed, he “felt really bad” for his daughter, as he “did not want her fellow students to laugh or avoid her as a result of this”.

Samuel said at the station he was placed in a “very stink” cell with eight other people.

He requested to make a telephone call to inform his grandmother of his arrest, but this was ­ignored. He spent the night in the cell, and the following day was handcuffed to a chair in the charge room and interviewed by PCs Carter and Bajan, who asked about a vault and a man whose name was given.

Samuel denied having any knowledge about ­either.

Samuel, in court documents, said the officers slapped him three times with the station diary and he felt dizzy and they also cuffed him multiple times about the upper body.

He said he was also told to sign a prepared statement, which he refused, and was further struck during the 45-minute ordeal.

He was placed back in cell for four days and did not receive medical attention, a phone call, informed of his right to an attorney or given any family visits.

Hours before he was due to appear before a magistrate, he was informed by PCs Acqui and Patrice of the offences against him.

Samuel was charged with robbing a clothing store of a $6,000 vault with $54,000 cash on April 8, 2015. It was also alleged that on April 12, 2015, he broke and entered a dwelling house and stole a $4,500 TV and a $3,000 laptop.

Denied bail

He was subsequently denied bail and remained at the Golden Grove Prison for approxi­mately three months—the duration of the matters.

Samuel described his stay at the prison as “one of the worst experiences in my life”, as he said he had to clean the slop bucket, was attacked by other prisoners and forced to sleep on the floor, from which he got rashes and sores.

He claimed while attending court, he was pushed down a staircase by Acqui and beaten by the officer who tightened his handcuffs, causing ­injury to the wrist.

Samuel said he received medical attention and made a report at the police station.

During the hearing of one of the matters, prose­cution witnesses said he was not the person who committed the crimes, and one said the description of the offender did not suit him.

Samuel was not placed on any identification parade before he was charged. The matters were later dismissed.

High Court Master Martha Alexander, in considering the award to Samuel last Wednesday, said with regard to his false imprisonment, “His evidence was clear and credible that during his arrest and prosecution, he suffered mentally and emotionally... In my view, the public arrest of the claimant on the school compound would have left indelible scars on the minds of the claimant and witnesses to the incident, and would have caused irreparable injury to his feelings and reputation.

“Instead of turning up on the school compound to embarrass him, the exercise of some restraint and good sense would have avoided such ­irreparable damage. In the circumstances. I accepted that his shame, humiliation and psychological damage could be ongoing.”

She said it was “appropriate and fair” to award Samuel $285,000 as general damages for unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, inclusive of an uplift for aggravated damages.

Alexander also said the assault and wrongful beating on Samuel were unprovoked and unwarranted and, while not seriously debilitating, would have been painful.

She awarded him $40,000. The awards were given with interest.

Samuel was awarded exemplary damages of $40,000 “to show this court’s distaste for the defendants’ behaviour”.

Costs was also given in the sum of $36,269.13.

Attorneys Rachael Jacob, instructed by attorney Avaria Niles, appeared on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General in the matters.


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