Sparrow loses lawsuit over land ownership

Legendary calypsonian Slinger “Mighty Sparrow” Francisco lost his legal battle with his niece over ownership of a lot of land in Diego Martin yesterday.

Delivering judgment at the end of a short trial in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday, Justice Frank Seepersad ruled that Fransico’s brother Vivian Herbert, now deceased, and Herbert’s daughter Sharon Toussaint had been in unopposed possession of the land at Bird Street, Union Road, Four Roads, Diego Martin for almost 30 years.

Seepersad ruled that Toussaint’s claim to the land was buttressed by the fact that her father paid land and building taxes on the property since 1990 and she continued to do so after his death in 2001.

Francisco’s case appeared tenuous from the onset of the trial as he was not present to testify and be cross-examined.

Seepersad accepted a last-minute application from his attorneys, who claimed that Francisco’s doctors did not give permission to travel from New York for the trial due to ill health, to admit a sworn witness statement. But the judge said he was forced to place little weight on Francisco’s statement.

There were also questions raised over the partiality of Francisco’s main witness, Noble Williams, who lives on a property which adjoins the disputed parcel of land. Seepersad ruled that Williams could not be an independent witness as he admitted that he had an interest in the land as his son had an agreement with Francisco to purchase it, before the dispute arose.

As a result of the decision, Francisco was ordered to pay Toussaint’s legal costs, amounting to $14,000, she incurred for defending the lawsuit.

Source: (Derek Achong)

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