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Truck driver gets $.2M from State for malicious prosecution

A truck driver who was arrested in 2013 and charged with larceny, has been awarded just over $215,000 for malicious prosecution.

The State was ordered to pay Isaac Bailey $215,553.38, after a Master of the High Court delivered the assessment of damages on October 3.

Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell granted judgment in the matter on August 13, 2021. Bailey was arrested and charged with larceny, contrary to Section 4 of the Larceny Act, on August 19, 2013. He was deprived of his liberty for seven days—of which the first five days were spent in the holding cell of the Scarborough Police Station. He described the cell as “having a horrible scent of urine and faeces.”

After appearing before the magistrate, he was remanded into custody at the Tobago Prison for a further two days. The prosecution lasted a little over two years and on October 14, 2015, Bailey was found not guilty.

He argued that as a result of the incident, he lost his job where he had been employed for almost seven years and had earned $300 per day.

As part of his supporting evidence, Bailey provided a letter from the company which confirmed his daily wage, as well as the fact that he had been terminated with immediate effect to avoid damage to the company’s reputation.

Bailey said his inability to provide for his family and pregnant wife had left him feeling depressed. With the pending matter hanging over his head, the former labourer said he faced distress, embarrassment and humiliation daily from his neighbours, family, friends and co-workers, who shunned and avoided him.

Having lost his faith in the police service, Bailey sued the State for damages for malicious prosecution, including aggravated and/or exemplary damages.

Donaldson-Honeywell ruled that Bailey was entitled to a loss of earnings for a reasonable period, with that period being measured against the time it might have taken for him to find alternative employment.

In the circumstances, he was awarded a loss of earnings as a consequential loss for a reasonable period of three months.

As for the claims of depression, the court accepted Bailey’s evidence that he felt depressed, even in the absence of medical evidence.

The court noted that his evidence was that he felt depressed and not that he had been diagnosed with depression/clinical depression.

In handing down her ruling, Donaldson-Honeywell considered the nature of the charges against Bailey, which it acknowledged were not minor offences because they led to him losing his job and suffering mental distress.

In looking at the year in which some of the awards were made and the need to take into account the fall in the purchasing power of the dollar, the court awarded the sum of $160,000, which included an uplift for aggravated damages for malicious prosecution with interest at the rate of 2.5 per cent per annum from the date of service of the claim to the date of judgment.

In addition, special damages in the sum of $17,164.20 with interest at 1.5 per cent per annum from the date of incident to the date of judgment; and costs on the prescribed scale in the sum of $38,389.18 were awarded.

Bailey was represented by Abdel Q Mohammed.


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