A visually impaired man from San Juan has lost his appeal over a protection order, obtained by his ex-wife because of his alleged protracted mental and emotional abuse.
Delivering an oral judgement at the end of a brief appeal at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning, Appellate Judges Mark Mohammed and Prakash Moosai rejected all the grounds raised by the man, who this newspaper chose to keep anonymous due to the nature of the proceedings.
The outcome of the case was merely a moral victory for the man’s ex-wife as the two-year protection order expired before the appeal hearing.
In the judgement, Mohammed stated that the man’s claim that the magistrate, failed to consider that his ex-wife could have raised his alleged abuse in divorce proceedings before the Family Court, lacked merit.
He disagreed as he noted that the magistrate, assigned to hear domestic violence cases, was best placed to decide on the order.
Mohammed also dismissed his claim that the magistrate failed to reject the evidence of the couple’s son, who testified over his father’s treatment of his mother because he (the son) was hostile while giving evidence.
The man’s lawyer also claimed that their son’s evidence was tainted as he admitted that he did not have a close relationship with his father.
Mohammed said that the appeal panel could not second guess the magistrate’s assessment of the evidence as she had the benefit of seeing and hearing the witnesses as opposed to having to review their testimony using transcripts of the magisterial proceedings.
The man’s claim that he was not given a fair hearing as his lawyer had personal issues at the end of the case, was also rejected as Mohammed pointed out that the magistrate chose to not hear submissions from his ex-wife’s attorney as his attorney was unable to present his.
While Mohammed and Moosai accepted the man’s complaints about the failure of the magistrate to explain the consequences for breaching the order, they said that it did not invalidate her decision as he was not prejudiced by her omission.
Mohammed noted that the order was not complex as he said: “Your client is sight-impaired not hearing impaired.”
According to the evidence presented in the case, the couple’s issues intensified when the man applied for divorce in late 2016.
In the divorce proceedings, the man was granted an injunction granting him access to the annex at the family’s home.
The man’s estranged wife then applied for the order as she claimed that he was still insulting her and using obscene language towards her.
He reportedly called her “stupid”, “a fool”, and “a lesbian” on several occasions and in front of their son.
The woman also claimed that the man would constantly flicker the garage light, slam doors and rattle a bunch of keys throughout the night.
She also claimed that her ex-husband’s brother, a pastor, came to her side of the property on several occasions and also verbally abused her while taking photographs. There was no evidence of physical abuse.
The woman also questioned whether her ex-husband should be deemed legally blind by the court as her sons testified that they saw him walking in San Juan without any assistance.
However, Mohammed and Moosai did not make any pronouncements on the man’s vision as they noted that there was no medical evidence before them.
In his defence, the man denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he was, in fact, being harassed and abused by his ex-wife and her sons.
The woman was represented by John Heath.