A COMMON-LAW couple who sought compensation from the State after they were arrested when police allegedly found a packet of marijuana in a bucket which had water in it, will now have to pay $14,000 for their failed claim.
Common-law partners Judy Small and Wendell Tull-Villareul filed a claim for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment which was dismissed by Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh who ordered that the couple pay the State’s legal costs.
The two were arrested on December 5, 2013, when police came to their apartment, searched it, and allegedly found the drugs.
They claimed on the way to the police station, the police stopped at bars, drank and played pool. They appeared in court the next day, and on September 20, 2016, the magisterial proceedings against them were dissed because the police failed to prosecute the case.
The State’s defence was that police had information about the sale of cocaine at a house at Toco Main Road, Cumana. They went to the premises and smelled marijuana smoke.
The police told the couple they had a warrant to search the premises. The canine unit was also used and police found the marijuana in a clear plastic bag in a bucket that had plants in it.
In his ruling, Boodoosingh said he found the couple’s version of the events to be implausible and farfetched.
“It seems unlikely to me that the police would just choose to set up the claimants just like that. The claimants also said the police stopped at a bar and played pool and drank while prisoners were left in a police bus.
“ I also found this bit of evidence to be somewhat incredible. I accepted what was put forward by the police officers that they did stop to pick up something for breakfast at a breakfast shop. Their evidence was that other searches were taking place in the area and they waited for the other groups to return to the station together.
“That seemed to me to be reasonable,” he said, adding that the search warrant also supported the State’s argument.
He held that the police had reasonable and probable cause to charge the couple and pointed out that their detention at the police station could not be considered unreasonable since they were taken to court the next day, they had to be processed and was granted bail shortly after.
The couple was represented by attorneys Chris Selochan, Shannon Samaroo-Suraj, and Ivan Daniel while Sasha Sukhram and Amrita Ramsook represented the State.