Claxton Bay man gets $1 m after false charges

For the third time in less than two years, tax­pay­ers have been forced to com­pen­sate a man from Clax­ton Bay, who claimed to have been re­peat­ed­ly tar­get­ed by a group of po­lice of­fi­cers.

Mark Vic­tor Ha­gley, of South­ern Main Road, Clax­ton Bay, re­ceived his lat­est award on Thurs­day as High Court Mas­ter Sher­lanne Pierre grant­ed him $200,000 in com­pen­sa­tion over an in­ci­dent in 2010.

 

Pierre was as­signed to as­sess the com­pen­sa­tion in the ma­li­cious pros­e­cu­tion case af­ter Ha­gley re­ceived a de­fault judge­ment over the State’s fail­ure to en­ter a de­fence to his claim.

The de­ci­sion means that Ha­gley has now earned al­most $1 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion from tax­pay­ers be­cause of the ques­tion­able ac­tions of a group of po­lice of­fi­cers, since 2006.

Ac­cord­ing to Ha­gley’s wit­ness state­ment, filed in the as­sess­ment pro­ceed­ings, the in­ci­dent oc­curred on Feb­ru­ary 5, 2010, while he was lim­ing by a bar near his home with friends.

Ha­gley claimed that he was ap­proached by two po­lice of­fi­cers, who had pre­vi­ous­ly framed him for drug pos­ses­sion in 2006.

He claimed that al­though he de­nied that he had any­thing il­le­gal in his pos­ses­sion and at­tempt­ed to re­move his cloth­ing to prove same, he was still ar­rest­ed.

Ha­gley was tak­en to the St Mar­garet’s Po­lice Sta­tion and was de­tained for sev­er­al hours be­fore he was even­tu­al­ly charged with co­caine pos­ses­sion.

“Af­ter the charge slip was read out to me, I im­me­di­ate­ly felt an­gered and frus­trat­ed, as at no time did I ever had in pos­ses­sion any il­le­gal drugs, es­pe­cial­ly co­caine as al­leged by the po­lice of­fi­cers,” Ha­gley said.

Ha­gley spent 42 days on re­mand be­fore he was even­tu­al­ly able to ac­cess bail.

He made 20 court ap­pear­ances be­fore the case was even­tu­al­ly dis­missed by a mag­is­trate over the fail­ure of the PC Leon Har­ri­paul, who charged him, to at­tend sev­er­al hear­ings of the case.

Ha­gley al­so claimed that since the in­ci­dent he has been con­tin­u­al­ly ha­rassed by po­lice.

“As a re­sult of the ar­rest, de­ten­tion and pros­e­cu­tion by the po­lice of­fi­cers, I have no faith or trust in any po­lice of­fi­cers in the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) due to what they have done to me and I state that my char­ac­ter and rep­u­ta­tion in the area has been ir­repara­bly dam­aged,” Ha­gley said.

He was al­so ap­pre­hen­sive over the pos­si­bil­i­ty that his trau­mat­ic ex­pe­ri­ences with po­lice in his com­mu­ni­ty may con­tin­ue.

“De­spite hav­ing this charge dis­missed, the po­lice have nev­er been in­ves­ti­gat­ed or dis­ci­plined for their con­duct and to date, I don’t even go any­where or lime any more as this in­ci­dent has de­stroyed my char­ac­ter and my self-con­fi­dence,” he said.

Al­though Ha­gley ex­pressed fear of sim­i­lar in­ci­dents re­cur­ring, in his state­ment, when Guardian Me­dia spoke to him af­ter the case he ap­peared con­fi­dent over his abil­i­ty to han­dle pos­si­ble fur­ther vic­tim­i­sa­tion.

“Let them come. I am ready for them,” a de­fi­ant Ha­gley said as he sug­gest­ed that he had no is­sue with fil­ing fresh claims if he was tar­get­ed once again.

Con­tacte­don Thurs­day over whether the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) cur­rent­ly has a sys­tem in place to con­sid­er dis­ci­pli­nary pro­ceed­ings for of­fi­cers whose con­duct are crit­i­cised in civ­il claims from cit­i­zens, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith re­ferred the ques­tion to the TTPS’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­part­ment.

Se­nior sources in the TTPS con­firmed that such a sys­tem was be­ing de­vel­oped.

The source ad­mit­ted that the TTPS was cur­rent­ly “in­un­dat­ed” with damn­ing judge­ments against po­lice of­fi­cers, like Ha­gley’s, but not­ed that the pro­posed sys­tem would take a while as it has to be de­vel­oped metic­u­lous­ly to en­sure that it con­forms with the Po­lice Ser­vice Act and Reg­u­la­tions.

Guardian Me­dia un­der­stands that while Ha­gley made the claims against the State through the law­suits, he nev­er made any re­ports against the of­fi­cers to the Po­lice Com­plaints Au­thor­i­ty (PCA).

The lack of re­ports does not pre­clude the PCA from in­ves­ti­gat­ing the of­fi­cers as, un­der Sec­tion 26 of the PCA Act, it may ini­ti­ate an in­ves­tiga­tive with­out a re­port once an in­ci­dent comes to its at­ten­tion.

Some judges have been known to re­fer their judge­ments made against of­fi­cers di­rect­ly to the Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er and PCA for their con­sid­er­a­tion. How­ev­er, such was not done in Ha­gley’s most re­cent case as he scored a le­gal vic­to­ry even be­fore it even went to tri­al.

Ha­gley was rep­re­sent­ed by Ab­del and Shabaana Mo­hammed while Lianne Thomas rep­re­sent­ed the State.

Reporter: Derek Achong

 

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