A police constable from Cedros has been awarded almost $100,000 compensation for being maliciously prosecuted for driving dangerously.
In an oral judgment delivered at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, this week, High Court Judge Margaret Mohammed ordered the compensation as she ruled that the police did not have reasonable and probable cause when they charged PC Rickson Johnitty in 2014.
According to the evidence that was presented in the case, around 1.15 pm on April 1, 2014, Johnitty was driving his Honda Civic near Chatam Junction in Cedros, when he was allegedly forced to pull to the left side of the road to avoid colliding with a truck which was driving in the middle of the road.
Despite performing the evasive manoeuvre, the truck still struck the right side of his vehicle.
Johnitty and the truck driver reported the accident at the Point Fortin Police Station and PC Keith Telesford accompanied them to the crash site to take measurements.
Johnitty claimed that he was not contacted by police until six months later when two colleagues came to his home and issued him with a summons to appear in court to answer a charge of driving without due care and attention.
Johnitty pleaded not guilty to the charge and made four more court appearances before the charge was eventually dismissed after Telesford repeatedly failed to attend court.
Johnitty lawyers claimed that the incident caused him embarrassment and distress.
“Since this charge, I have not been the same. I feel as though I was wronged by the police and I intend to be compensated for their negligence and recklessness for failing to conduct proper enquiries/investigations before charging me,” Johnitty said in his witness statement.
In its defence against the case, the Office of the Attorney General maintained that Telesford and other investigators had reasonable and probable cause to charge Johnitty although it admitted that the investigative file could not be found.
In her judgment, Mohammed ruled that she was not convinced by Telesford’s explanation over the missing file.