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Justice Frank Seepersad

A La Brea man, who was not pointed out during two identification parades, but was charged with robbery because he fit the description of a “tall black man” has been awarded more than $265,000 in damages.

Ruling in favour of Peter Frederick yesterday, Justice Frank Seepersad reiterated his call for errant police officers to pay damages from their own pockets.

Seepersad, who has also called for the resumption of physical court, heard the matter and delivered judgment in an open courtroom in the San Fernando High Court. No one wore masks but they were spaced about ten feet apart.

Delivering the ruling, Seepersad said, “It is unacceptable that in the absence of being pointed out at an ID parade and where there was no confession, that the claimant an Afro Trinidadian citizen was charged because he fit the description of a tall black man.”

The judge said reform is needed to make errant officers bear the award of exemplary damages.

Frederick filed the lawsuit in May last year for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment following his arrest on August 17, 2015.

The police asked him about an injury he had and where he lived. They then told him he was wanted for questioning by the La Brea police.

He was placed in a dirty cell and then later taken to the Siparia Police Station where he was questioned in connections with a supermarket robbery in Rousillac.

He denied knowing anything about the robbery. He was asked to sign his name on a blank paper, but he refused.

The police then searched the home of his common-law wife and mother, but nothing illegal was found. He was taken back to the cell where he was kept for four days and refused baths, as well as the medication for his injuries.

The next day he was placed on two identification parades, but he was not pointed out.

However, on August 24 he was charged with armed robbery and taken before a magistrate who refused to grant him bail. He was then taken to the Siparia Health Facility to remove the stitches on his wound. He remained on remand at the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca until he was granted bail in October 2015.

During that time, he contracted a flu due to daily cold baths at 4.30 am. He spent a total of 65 days in custody.

The charge was dismissed on July 26, 2016 after the prosecution failed to give any disclosure or statements to Frederick’s attorney.

The judge awarded general damages for $225,000 with an uplift for aggravated damages and exemplary damages in the sum of $40,000 with interest. The State was ordered to pay costs. Frederick was represented by attorney Joseph Sookoo while the State was represented by attorney Stephen Jaikaran.