Ian Harrow v The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
JudgeMr Justice Westmin R.A. James
Judgment Date24 October 2023
Neutral CitationTT 2023 HC 325
Docket NumberCLAIM NO: CV2018-03496
CourtHigh Court (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ian Harrow
The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago

The Hon Mr Justice Westmin R.A. James

CLAIM NO: CV2018-03496



Lemuel Murphy and Darryl Worrell, Attorneys at Law for the Claimant

André Cole and Adana Hosang, Attorneys-at-Law for the Defendant


This case is about a consistent action in Trinidad and Tobago for assault and battery by police officers.


By Amended Claim Form and Amended Statement of Case filed on the 19 th January 2020, the Claimant claimed for damages including aggravated and/or exemplary damages for assault and battery together with interest and costs.


By Amended Defence dated 31 st March 2021, the Defendant denied the Claimant's claim.


The trial took place on 28 th June 2023 after being reassigned to this Court in March 2023. The Court directed the parties to file closing submissions which were subsequently filed 18 th September 2023 and the 19 th September 2023 respectively.


The main issues for determination are:

  • i. whether the Claimant was assaulted and battered by the Defendant's servant and/or agent?

  • ii. If he was assaulted and battered, what is the appropriate damages he is entitled to?

Whether the Claimant was assaulted by the Defendant's Servant and/or agent?

The Claimant's pleaded case under particulars of assault and battery were:

  • i. That the Claimant was hit with a hard cover notebook to his face;

  • ii. That the Claimant was dragged out of the vehicle and kicked several times;

  • iii. That the Claimant was beaten with a piece of rubber; and

  • iv. That the Claimant was repeatedly threatened.

The Claimant's evidence

The Claimant gave evidence that on the 30 th September 2016, he was in the custody of the police at the Belmont Police Station when he was taken and placed in police vehicle The Claimant stated that upon entering the vehicle, he asked the officers where he was being taken and the officer who he later came to know as Special Reserve Police Officer Darren Euin (“SRP Euin”) said that he was being taken to the Arima Police Station to be placed on an ID parade. The Claimant stated in evidence that they were travelling in an easterly direction along the Priority Bus Route with SRP Euin driving. He said that after protesting why he was not being taken back to Fraud Squad, the driver pulled the vehicle aside and struck him in the face with a hard cover notebook somewhere in the vicinity of the Beetham Gardens.


The Claimant testified that he was taken out of the vehicle by SRP Euin who told him that he would change the handcuff because he was talking too much. He said he was told to face the vehicle and raise his hand to take off the handcuffs. He said upon complying, he felt a hand on his back and then he said his legs were kicked out from under him. He also said that he fell to the ground and SRP Euin began kicking him.


In his witness statement, the Claimant stated that he was kicked up and began to roll into a nearby drain filled with black, murky water. He said that when he was in the drain, SRP Euin placed his feet on his head and pressed on it causing him to drink the black, murky water that was in the drain.


The Claimant then said that he grabbed on to SRP Euin's foot causing him to fall into the said drain. said the Claimant stated that after falling into the said drain, SRP Euin told one of the other officers to shoot him as he was trying to escape. The Claimant stated that the other officer responded that he could not do that boy.


The Claimant then gave evidence that an unmarked vehicle driven by a police officer came whilst the incident was taking place and the police officer came out of the vehicle and enquired as to what was going on. The Claimant stated that he was able to identify the man as a police officer as he was wearing a badge around his neck. The Claimant said that he began vomiting and told one batch of officers that the officers were trying to kill him.


The Claimant then said that the officers took him out of the drain and back to the Fraud Squad in Port of Spain where he was beaten in the car park. He recounted that he was beaten by SRP Euin and another officer who was of East Indian descent. The Claimant's evidence was that he was kicked and beaten with a hard cover notebook and a black piece of rubber. The Claimant's evidence was that he was then taken to the office when he was struck in the face with a station diary. He said that he was then handcuffed behind his back for approximately six hours during which he was subjected to various threats by various police officers.


The Claimant was subsequently taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital on two occasions and on one of those occasions, he was kept for nine days. In his witness statement, the Claimant said he suffered a swollen left eye, laceration to the lip, internal bleeding and spinal injury as a result of the assault and battery. He also stated that he felt humiliated by the ordeal.


In cross examination, the Claimant denied that he was protesting to the officer. The Court noted that the Claimant also never said what the nature of the threats were.


The medical documents from the Port of Spain General Hospital state that the Claimant suffered from soft tissue injuries and that he was in the hospital for five (5) days from 1 st to 5 th October. The medicals do not state that he suffered from internal bleeding nor does it state any information about a laceration of the lip or anything about a spinal injury. The Claimant's Prison Form indicated, however, that the Claimant contracted a viral infection and was therefore given sick leave for his appearance before the Magistrate.


The Court notes that while the Claimant's pleaded case did not have that the Claimant was made to face the vehicle and put up his hand to take off the handcuffs, reading the pleadings as a whole, it seems likely that this was an error.

The Defendant's case

The evidence for the Defendant came by way of SRP Euin, Acting Corporal Terrence Nowbutt (“Cpl Nowbutt”) and the Charging Officer, Damien Thomas.


SRP Darren Euin in his witness statement said that he and Cpl Nowbutt took the Claimant, who was handcuffed, to a marked police vehicle at the Belmont Police Station. He went on to say that he put the Claimant in the left rear passenger seat with his handcuffs in front of him and he activated the child lock.


The witness stated that at around 11:50 am whilst on the Priority Bus Route, the Claimant began shouting “Ah doh want to go, all yuh kill meh” and began kicking and banging the seat in front of him which was the front passenger seat. The witness said that he heard Ag Cpl Nowbutt trying to reassure the Claimant by explaining to him that they were en route to authenticate his statements and there was no reason for him to be fearful of his safety. He said that despite these statements, the Claimant continued to kick the seat in front of him.


SRP Euin stated that Ag Cpl Nowbutt brought the vehicle to a stop on the shoulder of the PBR in the vicinity of the Beetham Gardens just before Parsley Street. He said that he did not strike the Claimant with any notebook as he only had a manila folder with the documents to be authenticated.


He said that he observed Ag Cpl Nowbutt get out of the vehicle and make his way to the left rear door of the vehicle. The witness said that he heard the officer inform the Claimant that his handcuffs were going to be adjusted with his hands to be placed behind his back to ensure everyone's safety. The witness said that he also got out of the vehicle and proceeded to the left rear door to assist.


SRP Euin said that Ag Cpl Nowbutt opened the left rear door and that Ag Cpl Nowbutt managed to open one side of the handcuff which was on the Claimant's left hand. He said as soon as the handcuff was free of his left hand, the Claimant pushed through both of them with his hands and body causing him to stumble and fall to the ground. He said he saw Ag Cpl Nowbutt attempt to grab the Claimant, but the Claimant escaped both of them and began to run.


The witness said he got to his feet and gave chase. He said that whilst running away, the Claimant slipped and fell into a drain. He also said Ag Cpl Nowbutt pursued the Claimant into the drain in an effort to assist him. He said he too entered the drain and they both helped the Claimant out of the drain. He said the Claimant had full use of both hands and was fighting and resisting restraint.


SRP Euin said that they raised the Claimant up and out of the drain, placed the Claimant on his stomach, got his hands behind his back and replaced the handcuff on his left hand. He was then taken back to the vehicle. The witness stated that at no point did they kick the Claimant nor did anyone threaten to shoot him.


He said he heard Ag Cpl Nowbutt caution the Claimant and inform him of his legal rights and privileges for assaulting two police officers and escaping legal custody and that he was being taken back to the Fraud Squad. He said that the Claimant remained quiet all through the ride back and made no complaints nor did he vomit.


He said that the Claimant was handed over to the call Sergeant in the Charge room and Ag Cpl Nowbutt made notes of the incident and handed them to the call Sergeant to enter into the Station Diary. The witness recounted that he and Ag Cp Nowbutt reported the incident to Acting Sergeant Damien Thomas who took him and Cpl Nowbutt to the Port of Spain General Hospital and they were examined by a doctor.


The medical evidence from the Hospital stated that Officer Darren Euin was found to have minor bruises/minor injuries probably from bodily force.


In cross-examination, the SRP Euin said that he did not fall into the drain himself. He also said that he did not ask the Claimant to get out of...

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