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