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State to pay car straightener $127,000

An au­to body straight­en­er from Ce­dros, who was ma­li­cious­ly pros­e­cut­ed for steal­ing a car in 2012, is set to re­ceive $127,000 in com­pen­sa­tion from the State

In May 2020, High Court Judge Joan Charles up­held Trevor Sama­roo’s case af­ter the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al ad­mit­ted that it had no ev­i­dence to jus­ti­fy his ar­rest and sub­se­quent pros­e­cu­tion. 

The com­pen­sa­tion owed to Sama­roo was re­cent­ly as­sessed by High Court Mas­ter Sher­lanne Pierre. 

Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence in the case, in Ju­ly 2012, Sama­roo was va­ca­tion­ing with his fam­i­ly in To­co, when he re­ceived a call from a neigh­bour, who in­formed him that po­lice of­fi­cers were at his home with a war­rant for his ar­rest. 

Three days lat­er, Sama­roo vol­un­tar­i­ly sur­ren­dered to po­lice at the Ce­dros Po­lice Sta­tion and was charged with steal­ing a car from Luke Hen­drick­son, de­spite deny­ing any wrong­do­ing and claim­ing that he had pur­chased the car from Mar­lon Des Vi­gnes, who he be­lieved to be the law­ful own­er. 

Sama­roo was re­leased on $50,000 bail and made 40 court ap­pear­ances in the Point Fortin Mag­is­trate’s Court be­fore the charge was even­tu­al­ly dis­missed. 

Dur­ing his crim­i­nal tri­al, Hen­drick­son tes­ti­fied that he did not recog­nise Sama­roo, as he was not the man who robbed him of the ve­hi­cle. 

In his law­suit, Sama­roo claimed that po­lice of­fi­cers did not have rea­son­able or prob­a­ble cause to sus­pect that he was guilty of the crime and act­ed with mal­ice. 

Sama­roo claimed that af­ter be­ing charged he suf­fered hu­mil­i­a­tion, as he was shunned by friends and neigh­bours. He al­so claimed that the charge af­fect­ed his busi­ness. 

“I state that this in­ci­dent has per­ma­nent­ly tar­nished my name and rep­u­ta­tion, as I have worked in the car straight­en­ing busi­ness for al­most thir­ty years and hav­ing an al­le­ga­tion of steal­ing a ve­hi­cle on my name would cer­tain­ly af­fect my busi­ness,” Sama­roo said in his wit­ness state­ment in the case. 

Mas­ter Pierre or­dered $70,000 in gen­er­al dam­ages and $20,000 in ex­em­plary dam­ages for Sama­roo. 

She al­so or­dered the State to cov­er the $12,000 in le­gal fees he in­curred in de­fend­ing the crim­i­nal charge and the al­most $26,000 he spent to pur­sue the law­suit for com­pen­sa­tion. 

Sama­roo was rep­re­sent­ed by Ab­del Mo­hammed, while Rad­ha Sookdeo rep­re­sent­ed the State