DSS founder gets court permission to sue police over firearms licence

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

DSS founder and administrator Kerron Clarke. –

DRUGS Sou Sou (DSS) founder Kerron Clarke has received the court’s permission to challenge the Commissioner of Police’s failure to grant him a firearm user’s licence (FUL).

On Thursday, Justice Nadia Kangaloo granted Clarke leave to pursue his judicial review claim against the commissioner after an attorney for the State admitted it could not resist the leave application.

Clarke sued the commissioner after the Firearms Appeal Board (FAB), in October 2021, ordered the commissioner to grant him a FUL.

He had applied for it in 2014, but in 2020, his application was refused. Clarke appealed to the FAB, which ruled in his favour.

His lawsuit contends the office of the commissioner was reminded of the FAB’s ruling and the legal unit told Clarke and his attorneys of the police service audit of the operations of its firearms unit. The legal unit asked for 30 days to respond to Clarke. That 30 days “has come and gone” and Clarke has not received his FUL, his lawsuit contended.

The judge said there was non-compliance with the FAB’s order and asked attorneys for the State about their position.

Attorney Sanjiv Lalla said he held preliminary discussions with the police’s legal unit and expected the matter can be resolved without engaging the court.

Lalla said he appreciated Clarke was anxious to have the matter resolved, but asked for additional time to formalise the State’s position.

In response to Lalla, Clarke’s attorney Rosario Sookdeo said, “We have waited and waited,” asking for leave to be granted and then the State “can do what they have to do to bring the matter to an end.”

Kangaloo said the threshold for leave was low, pointing out that since October 2021, when the FAB made its decision, there has been “nothing from the Commissioner of Police to say he (Clarke) ought not to be granted the FUL but only that administrative delays were preventing the granting of the FUL.”

She granted Clarke leave to pursue his claim and adjourned the matter to October 18, when, she said, she hoped there would be some traction in the discussions between the parties.

She has reserved the issue of costs.

In September 2020, police raided Clarke’s home at Kathleen Warner Drive, La Horquetta and seized close to $22 million, which they later returned.

In a subsequent raid, they seized the $6.4 million and Clarke was arrested.

He was later charged with two offences of money laundering contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act.

According to the charges, Clarke received a television on a date unknown between May 3, 2019 and February 8, 2021, as collateral for a loan the recipient was unable to repay.

He was also charged with receiving $1,850, on a date unknown between February 9, 2019 and December 3, 2020, as interest on a loan, while running a moneylender’s business without a licence.

Clarke shut down DSS and is challenging the police seizure. Hearing of the application for the forfeiture of the $6.4 million was adjourned to July 5.