Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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$200 fine for illegally occupying HDC house
A homeless man whoadmitted to illegally occupyinga Housing DevelopmentCorporation (HDC)apartment at DuncanStreet, Port-of-Spain, wasfined $200 yesterday. Calvin Marshall pleadedguilty to the offence afterthe charge was read to himby magistrate Cheron Raphael in the Port-of-SpainThird Court.Raphael gave Marshall twoweeks to pay the fine or, indefault, he would face 30days’ imprisonment withhard labour.
Marshall was charged afterhe was found sleeping in anunoccupied apartment duringa police exercise in east Port-of-Spain last Sunday.He was charged under Section45 (C) of the SummaryOffences Act, which makesit an offence for a person tosleep or loiter in anotherperson’s property withouttheir permission.
The legislation states:“Any person found sleepingor loitering in or under anybuilding, including any openouthouse, verandah, gallery,passage or gateway, or in anyvehicle or vessel, withoutleave of the owner, occupieror person in charge thereof,or on or under any wharf,quay, jetty, bridge, footway,or in any street or otherpublic place and not givinga good account of himself”is deemed as a “idle and disorderlyperson” and liable toa $200 fine or to imprisonmentfor a month.
Speaking at a news conferenceafter crime talks withOpposition members lastThursday, Prime MinisterKamla Persad-Bissessarannounced Government’sintention to bring legislationspecifically geared towardsillegal home invasions, sayingthe current law did notsignificantly punish offenders.
According to the evidenceread in court yesterday,around 6.45 am on August18, police entered ApartmentC, Building 62- 64, DuncanStreet, Port-of-Spain, andfound Marshall sleeping onthe floor.They asked him if he wasthe legal occupier of theproperty and he said no. Thepolice checked HDC records,which showed the apartmenthad been unoccupied sinceMarch 22.
After accepting Marshall’sguilty plea, Raphael askedhim why he decided to occupythe property. Marshallsaid he was homeless anddid not have a place to sleep.“Try not to go into placesthat do not belong to you.Next time you will go to jail,”Raphael said.Marshall represented himselfduring his brief courtappearance.
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