Two teenagers, who were caught locked in a toilet at a shopping mall in Barrackpore before school, have lost their lawsuit against the owner of the property for breach of their privacy.
Delivering an oral judgement after a virtual trial, yesterday afternoon, High Court Judge Frank Seepersad stated that the teens’ claim that the 17-year-old male student was helping the 15-year-old female student, who was allegedly suffering nausea due to her menstrual cycle, was implausible.
“I found the evidence of both Claimants to lack credibility and I find that it was more plausible to conclude on a balance of probabilities that these two young people were engaged in a romantic tryst in the bathroom,” Seepersad said.
He went on, “Clearly these young people were young and restless and were pursuing their romantic endeavours in a public environment in a private bathroom.”
As he rejected their evidence almost in its entirety, Seepersad also criticised their mothers for enabling them by filing their lawsuit on their behalf.
“We all love our children. We all sometimes accept the version of events our children tell us, but proper parenting also requires us to hold our children responsible for their action,” Seepersad said.
In the lawsuit, the teens, who cannot be named based their ages and the nature of the case, claimed that on October 2, 2018, they agreed to meet at the property at 7 am to conduct business with a seamstress, who was altering their uniforms.
The boy, who has since left school, claimed that the girl was feeling unwell and he asked for keys to the bathroom for her.
He said he accompanied inside as she sounded like she was vomiting.
They claimed that while there they heard banging on the door before the owner of the building, Krishen Basdeo, opened it.
They claimed that Basdeo was accompanied by a tenant later identified as Arzim Mohammed, who was holding a phone and recording.
Mohammed was sued alongside Basdeo but the teens obtained a default judgement against him as he did not defend their case like Basdeo.
They claimed that Basdeo used obscene language towards them, pushed the boy and threatened to call the police. They claimed that the men held them there for a while before they were allowed to leave.
Two days later, the video recording was shared on social media by a third party.
Testifying yesterday both teens claimed that their lives were negatively impacted when the video went viral.
The boy claimed that he stayed home for almost two weeks for fear of bullying and the girl claimed that she has had to alter her appearance as strangers have continually recognised her from the clip.
Testifying in defence of the assault and battery and breach of privacy lawsuit, yesterday, Basdeo denied instructing Mohammed to record or disseminate the video.
He claimed that before the recording started he saw the boy zipping up his pants and the girl fixing her shirt.
Basdeo said that he was going to contact the police but changed his mind after both students pleaded with him to not do so.
Also testifying in the trial was the seamstress Linda Putkoo.
Putkoo claimed that the students, who had used her services previously, came to her store, said hello and left.
She said that neither told her the girl was feeling unwell as claimed and admitted that she contacted Basdeo after hearing strange noises coming from the bathroom.
In assessing the evidence, which included the viral video and CCTV footage from tenants , Seepersad noted that the girl did not appear to be feeling unwell as claimed.
“She was not crouched over the sink or toilet but rather was putting back her hair in a ponytail,” Seepersad said.
He also said it was highly unlikely that the girl would have sought the boy’s assistance for her ailment as both claimed that they were not romantically involved.
He rejected claims from the teen’s attorneys that Basdeo’s intervention was improper even if they were engaged in sexual activity.
Seepersad noted that based on their ages at the time the boy could have been charged if that was the case.
“They should count themselves lucky that their interaction was cut short by the intervention of Mr Basdeo,” Seepersad said.
While he noted that Basdeo’s use of obscene language was unacceptable, Seepersad accepted his claims that it was in response to the usual situation.
“It must have been jarring at 7 am in the morning to open a door and see two school children in uniform locked in a bathroom,” he said.
As part of his decision, he ordered the teens’ mothers to pay Basdeo’s legal costs for the lawsuit.
The teens were represented by Lee Merry and Laurissa Mollenthiel, while Dereck Balliram and Shinade Ramlakhan represented Basdeo.