by Shawn Cumberbatch
Government will likely have to pay a Barbadian man thousands of dollars in compensation following the conclusion of a court case expected to have implications for the future conduct of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
High Court Judge Madame Justice Jacqueline Cornelius, in a judgment delivered today, ruled that Richard Dacosta Greenidge, 42, had his constitutional rights infringed by lawmen on Kadooment Day 2007.
That’s when a group of them broke into his car which was parked at home in his absence and confiscated about $23,000 and other personal belongings, later returning the other items, including his passport, but turning the money over to the Inland Revenue Department.
And in response to the decision in his client’s favour after the Crown did not file a defence, attorney-at-law Satcha Kissoon said he found the facts of the case “frightening” and told Barbados TODAY he hoped the outcome would show the police they had to respect the rights of citizens. “I find it personally alarming that the Royal Barbados Police has no respect for the rights of the citizens of this country and we have to go this far to get justice,” he said.
“He (Greenidge) was frustrated that he had to go to this extent to be able to get justice in circumstances when the police treated it flippantly and had no care or concern that they were breaching a citizen’s rights. It is frightening to see that this is the state that we actually live in.”
At today’s hearing of the constitutional motion filed against the Attorney General, at which Marcia Thompson-Cumberbatch of the Solicitor General’s Chambers appeared for the Crown, the St. Philip resident received judgment against Government for a declaration that his rights were infringed and that he was entitled to damages.
Barbados TODAY understands a hearing to assess the damages the state has to pay will take place on June 3 where Kissoon and Greenidge’s legal team “will argue how much the Crown has to pay him as compensation and costs” fit for his counsel.
This specific matter ended up in court after claimant unsuccessfully sought to have the RBPF return his money.
In his sworn affidavit, Greenidge told the court he had been accumulating the money seized by the police to repair his mother’s house where he lived.
“At the time my mother’s house needed repairs due to termite damage and I had been saving for the repairs which would have cost, at that time, about $30,000. I had saved the sum of approximately $23,000 and the money was hidden within a plastic bag and stored safely in the trunk of my motor car, along with a variety of other personal belongings… Due to the condition of the house with the existing termite damage,
I kept this money and my important documents in the car which I perceived was far safer than the house,” he stated.
“Whereas I maintained a bank account, this was solely for the purpose of my salary direct deposit from my employers… I do not like to keep money in a bank as savings because I prefer ready and easy access to my money at all times. I am also in meeting turns and I am more accustomed to the old fashioned method of saving money.”
Greenidge said on Kadooment Day 2007 a neighbour called him and informed him that police “were at my home and were trying to get into my car”.
“When I arrived at my home I discovered that the trunk of my motor car had been broken into… I was informed by (my) mother that the said officers… had forcibly broken into my car and removed items from the trunk and car. When I made a search of my vehicle I noted that the said sum of $23,000 was missing. Also missing from the vehicle were my Barbados passport, my National Registration Identification Card and my driver’s licence,” he said.
“I asked the police officers about my money and they said that they would have to see whether I owed National Insurance or Income Tax and that they were not giving it back to me. I said that I owed no such monies and that I wanted my money back. It has never been returned to me and I later learned that the police sent my money to the Inland Revenue Department,” he added.
But in the statement of claim filed in December last year his lawyers said Greenidge had constitutional rights the police had flouted when they took his money.
“Section 11 of the Constitution of Barbados provides that every person in Barbados is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual namely to the protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from the deprivation of property without compensation,” they argued.
“Section 16(1) of the Constitution of Barbados more specifically provides that no property of any description shall be compulsorily taken possession of except under the authority of a written law and sets out the manner in which this may be done.
“Section 24 of the Constitution of Barbados provides that a person who is injured as a result of a contravention of sections including sections 16 may apply to the High Court for redress.
“The Commissioner of Police, acting through his officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force, has breached Section 16 of the Constitution by depriving the Claimant of his personal property by compulsorily acquiring the same without authority of any written law,” they added. firstname.lastname@example.org†