Court awards repairman $100,000

An auto body repairman who was arrested for allegedly being in possession of stolen car parts but was later freed after producing receipts for them yesterday was awarded more than $100,000 in damages by a High Court judge.

Earl Peters, of Diego Martin, was awarded $100,000 in general damages and $25,000 in exemplary damages by Justice Judith Jones, presiding in the Port-of-Spain High Court.

Jones ruled Peters had been a victim of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution at the hands of a group of police officers who raided his home and arrested him on November 7, 2007. According to Peters’ statement on the day of the incident the police entered his property and began searching through his customers’ vehicles at his garage.

Peters claimed the police did not show him a search warrant before searching his premises which was disputed by the officers. In her oral judgment, Jones dismissed the evidence of the police, ruling they trespassed on Peters’ property by not showing him the warrant. During the raid the police seized a quantity of car parts, including a bonnet, three doors and seats, which they claimed had been stolen property.

Explanation dismissed

Peters testified he told the lawmen the parts were bought by a customer and there was a receipt in the glove compartment of the car. He said the police dismissed his explanation without verifying it after which he was charged with larceny of the parts. After making his first court appearance the following day, he was remanded into custody for nine days before he was eventually granted bail.

At a later court hearing, Magistrate Michelle Maharaja-Brown held that Peters had no case to answer after he produced the receipt showing the parts were legally bought. Jones ordered the state to pay Peters’ legal costs. (Guardian)

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