The Office of the Attorney General has been ordered to pay a Cedros auto body repairman more than $.1 million after he successfully brought a lawsuit against the State for malicious prosecution.
Master Sherlanne Pierre ordered earlier this week that Trevor Samaroo be paid a grand total of $127,000 in damages and legal fees after it was found that he was maliciously charged and prosecuted in July 2012 with larceny of a motor vehicle.
He was charged by officers of Cedros Police Station and, while in custody, he was allegedly informed by one of the officers that the only reason the charge was being laid against him was because officers were unable to locate the man who actually stole the car.
After being charged and making multiple court appearances over a two-year period, Samaroo was found not guilty by a magistrate.
In his claim form, Samaroo said around July 21, 2012, he and the rest of his family were vacationing in Toco. While there, he received a telephone call from one of his neighbours, informing him police officers were at his home. This resulted in him contacting Cedros police, who informed him a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
About two days later, he went to the station in the company of a justice of the peace and a bailor, and had the warrant executed on him.
Samaroo stated that while there, officers pointed out to him that he had conducted certain business transactions on a car, registration number PBF 5772, that did not belong to him.
“Upon hearing this I stated to them that any transactions involving the said vehicle were conducted for and on behalf of (name called). At all times the said (name called) represented himself to me as the legal and beneficial owner of the said vehicle,” said Pierre.
“Moreover, while at the Cedros Police Station, I repeatedly pleaded my innocence, and further stated to the police officers present that I never stole vehicle registration number PBF 5772,” he said in the claim.
But in spite of his pleas, Samaroo said he was still charged by WPC Ayanna Phino with the offence.
After the charge was laid, however, Samaroo said WPC Phino informed him the only reason he was being charged was because they could not locate (name called) and that she was instructed by her seniors that “somebody have to get charge”.
“As a result of my malicious prosecution, I suffered embarrassment and distress because Police Constable Ayanna Phino knew or ought to have known that she had no evidence and/or reliable evidence against me in respect of the said charge of larceny...”
The case against him was that he attempted to sell the car while knowing it was stolen. However, no evidence was presented to suggest Samaroo had, in fact, known the car was stolen or that he was engaged in any type of fraudulent or illegal acts involving the vehicle.
Samaroo, who was represented by attorney Abdel Mohammed, said at the time of his arrest and prosecution, he also bought and sold cars and, therefore, the malice of the officers resulted in his business facing hardships.
“...Whilst I was before the courts, I was unable to conduct the buying and selling of vehicles in fear that people would state that I was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle and would not want to do business with me,” he said. “This was one of the most difficult times of my life, as I suffered the stress and fear that I would be convicted for an offence that I never committed.”