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Prisoners lose assault case

The trinidad Guardian /

Three men accused of murder, who claimed to have been beaten by police in the holding cells of the Hall of Justice, have lost their lawsuit against the State for compensation.

Delivering an oral ruling in the assault and battery lawsuit yesterday, Justice Frank Seepersad stated that the claims made by John Phillips, David Noel and Joel Mc Hutchinson were implausible and improbable.

As a part of his judgment, Seepersad ordered the trio to pay the State’s $14,000 legal costs for defending the lawsuit.

The judge said the case was “devoid of merit” and should not have been taken to trial. Seepersad said such situations were too frequent in lawsuits against the State or its agents.

“In this society, there is a disturbing tendency to view the State as a source of unlimited resources and very often unreasonable, illegal or fraudulent demands are made. The State owns no funds and a Government acts as a trustee to administer funds that belong to the citizens of the Republic,” Seepersad said.

“The court is concerned about the frequency with which unreasonable or unjustified claims are made against the State. It has to be recognised that these claims if allowed, results in a circumstance where the people’s money, which should be used for the provision of legitimate services, is diverted,” the judge said.

The trio, who are still on remand at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca, was brought to court for the ruling and appeared dejected as they were being led out of court by police officers.

In their claim, the trio alleged that on September 24, 2014, they and another prisoner were attacked by between six to 10 police officers.

They claimed that they were beaten with batons and kicked by the officers in an attack which lasted approximately three minutes.

In his ruling, Seepersad noted that the injuries claimed by the trio were not supported by the doctor who examined them hours after the incident.

“Three minutes is quite a long time for four unarmed people to be battered by six to 10 police officers,” Seepersad said as he noted the injuries did not correspond to the severity of the beating claimed by the men.

Seepersad rejected claims by the trio’s lawyer, who called upon him to consider the fact that State attorneys failed to call upon police officers, assigned to the area of the court, to testify.

While Seepersad said the issue may cause suspicion, he said adverse inferences could not be drawn as the trio were required to prove their case against the officers.

The men were represented by attorney Mark Seepersad.

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