Businessman Inshan Ishmael is set to receive significant compensation from the State, after his wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution case over an incident in 2017 was upheld by a High Court Judge.
Justice Frank Seepersad upheld Ishmael’s case after a brief virtual trial yesterday.
Justice Seepersad did not immediately assess the compensation owed to Ishmael, as he invited his attorneys and those for the Office of the Attorney General to file submissions on the issue. He is expected to conduct the assessment during a hearing next Tuesday.
Ishmael’s case stemmed from an incident that occurred when he attended a sports and family day at the ASJA compound, Caroni Savannah Road, Charlieville, on April 2, 2017.
Ishmael had just got into his car and was about to leave when an attendee at the event blocked Ishmael’s SUV with his pick-up truck.
Ishmael, the chief executive officer of the Islamic Broadcast Network (IBN), claimed the man used abusive and threatening language toward him before he was allowed to leave.
Ishmael, who is a firearm user’s license (FUL) holder, was unarmed at the time of the incident.
Ishmael made a report to the Chaguanas Police Station over the incident and the man, who opposed him, made a report several days later in which he alleged that Ishmael had threatened him with a gun.
Ishmael was arrested over six months later while he was organising a peaceful protest over a decision by the T&T Police Service (TTPS) to block the entrance to Barakah Grounds in Chaguanas, where he operates his restaurant.
Ishmael was arrested by a senior police officer, who he (Ishmael) claimed used abusive and obscene language towards him and accused him of attempting to tarnish the reputation of the TTPS.
He was detained in a cell at the police station overnight before being released after search warrants were executed at his home the following day.
Later that month, Ishmael surrendered to police after he heard that there were three warrants for his arrest in relation to the incident at the family day.
He was charged with possession of a firearm to endanger life, possession of ammunition to endanger life and assaulting the man.
He was granted bail and made numerous court appearances before the charges were dismissed after Magistrate Rajendra Rambachan upheld no-case submissions made by his attorneys.
At the start of the hearing, Justice Seepersad had to deal with an application from Ishmael’s legal team seeking a default judgement against the State over its failure to file a defence to his lawsuit.
State attorney Maria Belmar-Williams applied for relief from the sanction to file the defence outside the deadline, as she claimed that “an administrative mishap” caused the delay.
While Justice Seepersad acknowledged that Belmar-Williams’ department was understaffed and overworked, he noted that the issues had to be addressed internally and could not be allowed to “slow the wheels of justice.”
In upholding Ishmael’s case, Justice Seepersad ruled that the police did not have reasonable or probable cause to arrest and charge him, as there were conflicting reports over the incident at the sports day and no evidence that he had a firearm in his possession.
Justice Seepersad also stated that he was alarmed by the fact that Ishmael was charged with common assault when the six-month statutory limitation period for laying the summary charge had already elapsed.
He noted that he inferred malice based on Ishmael’s comprehensive claims over what transpired and ordered that he receive exemplary and aggravated damages.
Ishmael was represented by Arden Williams and Shelly-Ann Daniel.