Judge's gavel

Beaten, slashed with a broken razor blade and threatened with death by an inmate, a prison officer is to receive damages in the sum of $70,000 from the State for negligence.

It was back in 2015 that the officer, Sean George, was slashed to the chest and neck and bitten on the chin by the murder accused inmate at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca.

Last month, Justice Betsy Ann Lambert-Peterson found the State liable for George’s injuries insofar as other prison officers failed to carry out a proper search of his person to ensure he was not in possession of any weapons.

In addition to the damages, the Office of the Attorney General was also ordered to bear George’s legal costs.

He was represented by attorneys Jared Jagroo and Cheyenne Lugo, while attorneys Savitri Maharaj, Monica Smith and Vandana Ramadhar appeared for the State.

According to the evidence, on June 28, 2015, George was on duty at Division L of the prison when he ordered two inmates out of a cell to carry out a search for weapons.

While the first inmate exited the cell without protest, the second inmate, Hecliff Haneph, refused to do so. After multiple refusals to exit the cell, George then attempted to physically remove him.

But this was when a scuffle between the two began, resulting in the intervention of two other officers to restrain Haneph. During the fight, George was bitten on the chin by the inmate and had to be taken to the prison’s infirmary for treatment, the claim stated.

While there, however, George said he saw another prison officer escorting the unrestrained inmate also to the infirmary for treatment.

As Haneph entered the infirmary he lunged at George and slashed him to the chest and neck with the broken razor blade.

Again, other officers had to restrain the inmate and place him in a cell in the infirmary where he began threatening the officer.

“We will find you out dey, Mr George, and we will deal with you. Allyuh does be easy to find. Just know this ain’t finish yet and I not going to stop till you dead,” Haneph allegedly told the officer.

Because of the additional injuries the officer received, he had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

‘Dead man walking’

But after being treated and while leaving the institution, George noticed that Haneph was also at the hospital with two other officers awaiting medical attention.

As he walked past the inmate, George said he was once again threatened with death and Haneph referred to him as “a dead man walking”.

The officer said subsequent to the incident he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The fees incurred by him in obtaining the services of a psychologist to treat the condition also formed part of the damages he was ordered to receive.

In defence of the claim, State attorneys denied that the other officers acted negligently when they brought the inmate to the infirmary unrestrained.

They argued that the inmate was also injured and, therefore, he was not restrained to prevent further injuries.

In her ruling, Justice Lambert-Peterson said she took judicial notice of George’s injuries from the broken blade and also held the prisoner was not properly searched before being taken to the infirmary.

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