Attorney Grant Connell told the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday that two nationals of Trinidad and Tobago who were facing immigration charges have complained to him that they were beaten by the police.
Connell was mitigating on behalf of Carrie Hopson, a lorry delivery man, and fisherman; as well as Korey Clarke, plumber and fisherman both 29, who had both pleaded guilty to entering the state at Owia, by boat and disembarking without the consent of an immigration officer; entering the state by boat without a passport; entering the state at a port other than at a port of entry; and knowingly and willingly allowing themselves to be landed as prohibited immigrants.
The facts revealed that around 3:25 am on March 2, police officers from the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) went at a house of a female in Owia to execute a search warrant in respect of guns and ammunition.
During the search Clarke and Hopson were found in a bedroom. They admitted being Trinidadians, but had no identification documents on them. They were taken to the Central Police Station where they were cautioned, and gave statements.
The Court also heard that the men complained of not feeling well, and were taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where they were admitted, and subsequently discharged.
They were then handed over to immigration officers. Checks were made, and there was no record of them entering the state at a port of entry.
But Connell, in mitigation, said that based on his instructions, his clients left Trinidad on a fishing expedition, developed engine problems, and ended up at Owia on February 28.
They were assisted, during which they were taken to the homes of their relatives at Owia. On their return to where they left the boat, there was no captain or boat.
Connell said his clients complained to him that they were beaten by the police, and had to be taken to the hospital after complaining to the police of having abdominal pains.
Connell said the men had to undergo a series of tests and x-rays at the hospital, and he was expected to receive the reports from the hospital by yesterday (Thursday).
But according to Connell, “It is clear that there was blunt trauma.”
The lawyer said that the medical bill amounted to $622.50, and his clients had to stand the expenses.
“As a result of what the police did to them, they ended up in the hospital. The police cannot take the law into their own hands”, Connell continued, “the men were then taken to the Biabou Police station, and were not even checked by a doctor”.
Prosecutor Renrick Cato said Connell was making a serious allegation against the police. Cato noted that the men had given a statement to an immigration officer, but had said absolutely nothing about any police beating them.
In response to Cato, Connell said he did not identify any particular officer, but was speaking generally based on instructions he received from his clients.
Connell asked the Court to impose a reasonable fine, and allow the men time to pay, as his clients had gone through enough already.
He admitted that they were wrong not to have gone straight to an immigration officer, on their arrival here, adding that they were remorseful, had no previous convictions, and had not wasted the court’s time.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett imposed a fine of $300 each, on each charge, to be paid by today (Friday).
In default they would each serve a prison sentence of one month. He also made a deportation order for both defendants.
Clarke and Hopson answered to the charges via zoom, from the Biabou Police Station where they were quarantined.