Attorney General, Anil Nandlall has asked the High Court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Christopher Jones in which the APNU/AFC Member of Parliament is seeking damages in excess of $300,000 for his unlawful arrest and seizure of his properly, namely 18 barber chairs and two air conditioning units.
Jones, in the lawsuit, is contending that despite there being a conservatory order restraining the ranks from entering into his premises, they jumped his fence and searched his home situated at 609 Conciliation Drive Tucville, Georgetown. Added to that, Jones said that the ranks failed to produce a search warrant or provide him with any lawful or justifiable reason for entering in his premises and conducting a search.
In a Statement of Claim filed by the three lawyers on August 31, 2020 at the High Court in Demerara, the Respondents are listed as Acting Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie; Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum; Inspector Rodwell Sarrabo; Assistant Superintendent of Police Chibanauth Singh; Corporal Singh and Attorney General Anil Nandlall.
In asking that the lawsuit be dismissed as it is frivolous and vexatious, Nandlall contends that Inspector Sarrabo, ASP Chibanauth Singh and Corporal Singh went to Jones’ home on the reasonable suspicion that the property in his possession belonged to the State.
In fact, Nandlall contended that Jones made no objections to a search being conducted on his home, but requested time to consult with his Attorney-at-Law Joseph Harmon, Leader of the Opposition. In addition, Nandlall contended that the acting Top Cop and Crime Chief were incorrectly listed as parties to these proceedings as they were no where near close to, or in proximity of Jones’ home, nor did they detain him.
The Attorney General has submitted to the court that a police officer has the power to arrest, without a warrant, anyone whom he suspects, with reasonable cause, is about to commit an offense or whom he suspects has already committed such an offence.
Furthermore, the Attorney argues that the offense need not actually have been committed to legitimize the arrest without a warrant by a police officer. Having regards to the circumstances, Nandlall contends that Jones is not entitled to any damages at law or at all and the lawsuit should be dismissed for being frivolous and vexatious.
The Member of Parliament, through lawyer, Nigel Hughes, is also asking the court to award him exemplary damages. In fact, he argues that the execution of the search, entry, and arrest was violent, aggressive, arbitrary, unconstitutional, and devised to invoke, and did invoke fear into him and his family. He is also accusing the police ranks of damaging his door lock which is valued at $5,000.
Jones is asking the court to declare that his constitutional rights were breached. He is also seeking interest on all damages awarded, costs, and any such further or other orders the court sees fit in the circumstances.
Police are alleging that Jones stole $4 million in items from the State, including several barber chairs.
Guyana Standard understands that the search on his property was executed after an audit was carried out at the then Ministry of Social Protection, which showed that the said ministry approved $4.9 million under the Region 4 administration for the procurement of equipment for a barbershop under the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme.
The monies were all spent by December last year. However, $1M in items were not delivered, and the project was not executed. Police Headquarters, in a statement had said that the items fitting the description of the State assets were recovered from Jones’ residence.
In the meantime, Jones was released on $100,000 station bail as ranks from the Major Crimes Investigation Unit continue investigations.