Justice Carol Gobin –
A Tobago man who was arrested on three occasions for non-payment of child maintenance has won his case against the State, which failed to defend his lawsuit for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and breach of his rights.
At a virtual hearing on Friday, Justice Carol Gobin entered judgment in favour of Curtis Carrington, an operator at the Scarborough Hospital. She referred an assessment for damages to a High Court Master.
Police arrested Carrington three times on alleged outstanding maintenance orders when there were none against him.
Carrington is the father of one child, who turned 21 in March. The periods for which it is alleged he owed payment were long after his child turned 18.
The letter said around 2011, his ex-wife took him to court for maintenance and an order was made for him to pay $100 per week until the child turned 18, or until further ordered.
Up until 2017, when the child turned 18, Carrington made all his payments, and never defaulted, as the money was taken directly out of his bank account and paid directly to the Family Court in Port of Spain. Carrington even overpaid by one month.
He was first arrested on November 6, 2017, for non-payment of $2,500 for the period ending July 31, 2017, although his child was 18.
He was only allowed to leave the police station after he paid the allegedly outstanding sum.
A week later, on November 13, 2017, he was arrested again on a warrant for $2,400 in arrears for June 23-August 17, 2017.
Again, he had to pay the money before being released from the police station.
After the second arrest, Carrington went to the Family Court, which reimbursed him the $2,400, after acknowledging there had been some error.
On March 4, 2000, Carrington was arrested for a third time for $1,500 in maintenance arrears for April 14-May 18, 2017.
Carrington’s lawsuit said he was held in a filthy cell at the Scarborough police station, without food or water, until his family was able to scrape together the money to pay the alleged arrears.
He again returned to the Family Court and was refunded the $1,500.
His attorney Martin George said, “Not only did Mr Carrington explain to the police that his maintenance payments came out directly from his salary at the TRHA and that all payments had been made; he also explained to them that the child was now over the age of 18 years and the maintenance order had come to an end in April 2017.”