John v Mohammed

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
JudgeHyatali, C.J.
Judgment Date16 January 1980
Neutral CitationTT 1980 CA 4
Docket Number45/79
CourtCourt of Appeal (Trinidad and Tobago)
Date16 January 1980

Court of Appeal

Hyatali, C.J.; Scott, J.A.; Cross, J.A.



Mr. E. Roopnarine appeared for the appellant.

Mr. C. Walters appeared for the respondent.

Criminal Law - Appeal against conviction — Careless Driving

Hyatali, C.J.

The appellant was charged with and convicted of the offences of driving without due care and attention on 10 th February, 1976, at Forest Reserve Road, Fyzabad, in the country of St. Patrick, contrary to s.47 of the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Ordinance, Ch. 16 No. 3 (herein called “the ordinance”).


On 10 th February, 1976, a collision took place between two vehicles on the Forest Reserve Main Road, as it is described, and in consequence of that collision the charge was laid against the appellant. The conviction in this case is not challenged on the ground that the appellant did not drive without due care and attention but on the ground that the road on which the alleged collision occurred is a private road and not a road within the meaning of the ordinance, which defines “road” as meaning:–

“… any street, road or open space to which the public are granted access and any bridge over which a road passes, and includes any privately owned street, road or open space to which the public are granted access either generally or conditionally.”


The question whether a road is a road within the meaning of the Ordinance or whether a road is a private road in the ordinary sense of the term and outside that meaning has been considered in a number of cases. The first in order of time is that of Cordeau v. Stoute (1962) 4 W.I.R. 394, the second is O'Garro v. King (1962) 5 W.I.R. 104, and the third is Britto & anr. v. Alves (1967) 12 W.I.R. 48. O'Garro v. King was a decision of two judges. Britto v. Alves was a decision of three judges, of which Wooding, C.J., was the president. In that case it was held:–

“… that the criterion by which any privately owned road may be adjudged to be a road within the meaning of the ordinance is whether the road is used by the public generally or conditionally and not whether it is used by a class of the public only.”


In that case the decision in Cordeau v. Stoute (supra) was referred to and the dictum of Stoby, C.J., who delivered the judgment of the Court, was approved on two points to which I shall make reference later.


What are the facts in this case on which the appellant relies to persuade us that it was established before the learned magistrate that this was not a road within the meaning of the Ordinance but a private road? First of all, that evidence came out of the cross-examination by the appellant's solicitor of a witness for the prosecution, one Roopnarine Ramlogan, who was a foreman employed with Texaco. He said inter alia:–

“[The road] is in Texaco's place at Forest Reserve. They have barriers at the main gate. They have guards at the main gate. To get in the guards have to let you in. I have a pass to get in there. I was authorised to go in there. I haven't got my pass here today. The vehicle reversed out suddenly. I don't know the system which the Company operates.”


Steady Daniel, another witness for the prosecution who was then a pipe fitter employed with Texaco, said in cross-examination that the road on which the accident occurred was a private road and there was no one controlling traffic behind the truck.


Shaffick Mohammed, the Police Constable who laid the charge against the appellant, said that the road on which the accident took place was at the forest Reserve Compound road. It was not an enclosed area. There were two gates at each end. He did not know if one had to get permission to get there. He made enquiries and was not satisfied that it was a private road. The police man at the gate gave people permission to get in.


That was the sum total of the evidence.


I go back to Britto v. Alves (supra) in which the first point made by Stoby, C.J., in Cordeau v. Stoute (supra) was approved by this Court...

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