State to compensate Tobago man for malicious prosecution

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

– File photo

A Caanan, Tobago, labourer who alleged he was consistently targeted by police because of a romantic liaison he unknowingly had with the girlfriend of a police officer will be compensated by the State for assault, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution.

This is Hershel Stewart’s third legal victory for similar abuses by officers of the Scarborough police.

Last week, Justice Carol Gobin ruled in Stewart’s favour and ordered compensation of $210,000.

His claim before Gobin said he was arrested in March 2017, by officers of the Scarborough police station in Canaan where he was liming with a group of people.

While waiting to be served some food, Stewart said a black X Trail SUV pulled up and two soldiers began running towards the group. He said he ran out of fear and was shot at. He said the two police officers, whom he named in his lawsuit against the State, began beating him when he was caught.

Stewart said he was thrown in the SUV and taken to the Scarborough police station where he was charged for possession of marijuana.

His lawsuit said he was made to “endure a continual ordeal of a journey through the criminal justice system,” continued to be stigmatised by the community and targeted by the police.

In its defence, the State maintained the two police officers participated in a joint army patrol when they saw a man standing on the side of the road with a “cigarette of unusual length” in his hand.

The man and those nearby ran and two of them were held close by, one of them being Stewart.

When searched, it was alleged that “a cigarette of unusual length” containing marijuana was found in Stewart’s pants pocket. It weighed five grammes.

The State’s defence denied knowledge of “any romantic liaison with any young lady” and maintained Stewart was properly arrested and charged.

The case in the magistrates’ court for alleged possession of the marijuana cigarette was discontinued in the magistrates’ court.

Stewart was represented by Arden Williams and Shelly-Ann Daniel while Kendra Mark-Gordon and Ronnelle Hinds represented the State.