A POLICE officer and a relative have both been awarded damages by the court after they were arrested and taken into custody three years ago, only to later be released without any charges being laid.
The officer, Camlah Naraceram, and her daughter-in-law, Jerissa Naraceram, were kept in custody at Sangre Grande Police Station for two days following a search at their home, located at Canque Village, Biche, on the evening of February 15, 2017.
The arrests were made after the officer’s son, Adesh Naraceram, handed over a small amount of marijuana to the police, after the officers enquired if there was anything illegal in the house.
He was eventually charged with possession of the marijuana and fined by a magistrate after pleading guilty to the offence.
However, the other two, even though they too were arrested, were never charged with the offence.
On Monday, High Court Master Sherlanne Pierre awarded the officer $70,000 in damages, while her daughter-in-law was awarded $65,000.
The Office of the Attorney General was also ordered to pay the duo’s legal costs in bringing the claim.
According to Naraceram’s claim, on the day in question, the officer said she had just arrived home from completing her shift when she observed two police vehicles parked in front of the building.
Upon entering her home, she said she met with several other officers who informed her they had a warrant to search for illegal firearms and ammunition.
One of the officers, she said, informed her that prior to her arrival, they asked her son whether there was anything illegal on the premises.
At that point, Adesh took them to the bathroom area of the house and opened his wardrobe and handed over a black plastic bag to them.
In the bag was a small amount of marijuana and a “cylindrical metal object”.
He informed the officers he was the owner of the items and that neither women were aware of the items being on the premises.
The two also claimed they had no knowledge of the items being kept in the house.
In spite of this, they were arrested and taken to the police station, where they were held for two days before being released.
“WPC Beekley informed me that I needed to hand over all implements that were issued to me by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, including the clothing I had on at the time,” she said.
The officer said she suffered humiliation, distress and embarrassment from the situation.
“I was arrested in full view of my neighbours who were standing in the roadway and were chatting amongst themselves and looking on while I was escorted to a police vehicle with officers carrying garbage bags which contained my police uniforms and gear. I felt demeaned having been kept in such a humiliating situation for two days at the police station where I was attached and in full view of my peers,” she stated.
The officer added that after she was released and returned to work at the station, she was shunned and avoided by the other officers who frequently made jokes and disparaging remarks about her and her family being drug dealers.
“I have also suffered irreparable damage to my reputation and standing in the eyes of persons within my community, where I was previously known as an upstanding person.
“Throughout my entire life I never felt as humiliated as I felt having to go through an experience such as this, having to be locked up by my own peers. I was treated like a criminal by my own colleagues of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service,” she stated.
The women were represented by a team of attorneys led by Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan, while the Office of the Attorney General was represented by attorney Savitri Maharaj.