DPP Orders Probe into Prison Litigations


By Jada Loutoo
May 08, 2014 – newsday.co.tt

Director of Public Prosecutions Roger GaspardDIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, SC, says he is of the “unflinching view” that there is more than sufficient material in the ruling of High Court Master Patricia Sobion-Awai in the Jamal Sambury assault claim against the State to warrant a criminal investigation of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice and conspiracy to defraud the State of Trinidad and Tobago.

Gaspard has since advised acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams to commence “forthwith” an investigation.

The DPP, on April 30, received from the Registrar of the Supreme Court a copy of the Master’s February 5 ruling as well as the transcript of the hearing of the procedural appeal of the proceedings on February 17.

In a statement yesterday, Gaspard said he perused the Master’s ruling as well as the transcript of the procedural appeal and “ethical considerations aside” he was “of the unflinching view that there is more than sufficient material contained therein to warrant an investigation into the commission of several offences including conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice and conspiracy to defraud the State of Trinidad and Tobago.”

“Thus, it is my unyielding and considered view that a criminal investigation should be commenced immediately into the circumstances surrounding the conduct of litigation in these matters,” Gaspard said.

“When I consider the nature and seriousness of this matter, the widespread public interest, the importance of the offices concerned and the necessity to ensure public confidence in them, as well as the fact that the primary body or person, charged with the prevention and detection of crime in Trinidad and Tobago is the Police Service (TTPS), I have decided to advise the Acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams to commence an investigation forthwith,” the statement from the DPP said.

Gaspard added that “quite apart from any constitutional considerations” and “from a practical point of view,” it was clear that an investigation by the Police Service was the “most prudent course” as the TTPS has the resources and investigative experience for “such a serious task.”

Gaspard also said, “It is also clear that in terms of the acceptance of any investigative findings, both in the courts of Justice as well as the court of public opinion, such a course prevents any unfair allegation of bias being made about the Office of the Attorney General or the incumbent and ensures that any police investigation is not in any way contaminated.”

“It cannot be overstated that transparency is essential for there to be a fair and effective criminal justice system, one that will inspire public confidence in the administration of justice generally and in the specific context of due process and the rule of law,” the DPP concluded.

On May 2, Newsday reported the Master’s ruling has also been referred to the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Association by High Court Registrar Marissa Robertson.

Although neither the High Court Registrar in her letter to the Law Association and Gaspard in his statement yesterday called no names, attorney Gerald Ramdeen, who along with Varun Debideen represent Sambury, in an immediate reaction to the DPP’s statement said he welcomed the intervention of the DPP to “finally bring this matter to an end.”

“I am confident my name will be cleared in the end. I trust that there will be a speedy investigation to bring this matter to a conclusion,” he told Newsday. The issue of prison litigation came to the fore after former Solicitor General Eleanor Donaldson- Honeywell wrote to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on August 30, 2013, six months after Master Sobion-Awai found that significant portions of court filings from previous litigation by prisoners making claims against the State, were lifted by Sambury in his assault and battery claim.

The former Solicitor General in her letter to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar also asked her to investigate circumstances, “that may amount inter alia to breaches of professional ethics by the attorneys involved and may have the effect of perverting the course of justice in litigation against the State”.

She also referred to the retaining of lawyers by the Office of the AG who defended the State in civil law claims while going against the State in prison litigation.

In her letter to the Prime Minister, the former SG also referred to the concerns raised by Sobion-Awai.

Persad-Bissessar last week, instructed Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to investigate concerns raised by Donaldson-Honeywell as it related to matters involving lawyers engaged in prison litigation.

The start of this investigation was postponed indefinitely following the death of the late Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal on Sunday.

Also calling for an independent investigation was the Law Association “in light of the allegations which may constitute an abuse of process and/or perversion of the course of justice and which have the potential to undermine the administration of justice.”

The Association, however, asked for full disclosure of all allegations and supporting facts.

The Master ruled that Sambury sought to mislead the court as to his injuries and the actual circumstances of his assault and battery.

She found the conduct of litigation by Sambury to be dishonest and an abuse of the court, but did not strike out the assessment of injuries and compensation since she found that he had in fact suffered injuries.

That assessment hearing comes up on May 21 in the Port-of-Spain Masters Court.

Expressing her concerns about the “copy and paste” exercise, the Master held that the similarities were so startling that the only reasonable conclusion was that Sambury copied and presented as his own sizeable portions of the witness statement of Jamal Fortune.

“It was significant that the claimant offered no explanation for the obvious copying and use of another person’s witness statement.

“In the absence of any explanation, I concluded that the copying was done deliberately in an effort to mislead the court and obtain a larger award than that to which the claimant was entitled,” she said.

That assessment hearing comes up on May 21 in the Port-of-Spain Masters Court.


2 thoughts on “DPP Orders Probe into Prison Litigations”

  1. DPP: Cops best suited (guardian.co.tt)
    The issue of concocted, exaggerated civil assault cases filed by prisoners seeking unjust compensation from the State is now under a criminal probe. The latest development was announced by Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, yesterday, even as the Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was ordered by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to revisit his probe into allegations of an “unethical business venture” made by former solicitor general Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell relating to prisoner abuse litigation.

    DPP ORDERS PROBE (trinidadexpress.com)
    In a statement with potentially explosive implications, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard yesterday announced he has directed the acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams, to “commence forthwith” a criminal investigation into “prison litigation matters” and “the prospect of criminal wrongdoing”. Gaspard said he had received from the Registrar of the Supreme Court the decision of Master Patricia Sobion-Awai in the matter of Jamal Sambury vs the Attorney General and the transcript of the hearing of the Procedural Appeal. He said there was enough material to support an investigation.

  2.  ‘Mr Commissioner of Police, I have full confidence in you , so attack with full force , yet another case of blatant corruption, where the only obvious victims here are ,poor desperate criminals , and and an already disgusted general public.
    As my late, and extremely wise ,Tobago Granny, would often say,to yours truly, back in de day, ‘tell dem dey meet dey match!’
    I love me an honest ,fearless, independent minded, and most importantly, muy Patriotic Public Servant , and no one best fits this description, than our DPP, Mr. Roger Gaspard .
    We got your back Mr RG!
    Let them try via intimidation, and other stupid schemes , to run you from office , as was probably done, to former Solicitor General, Eleanor Donaldson-Honey.
    Thank goodness however , they are doomed to fail ,because you have a back bone- so hold the course.You won’t put your tails between your legs , like a Maracas Zandolee, and run to the hills , then cry fire in the ‘burning Trinidad building, since you saw what cowardice did to others, hmmmm?
    Did anyone mention ex Chief Justice Shama, pro crony bozo Basdeo Panday, conniving Privy Council , clueless Patrick Manning, a sudden tongue tied,then conveniently dead ,Chief Magistrate ,Mc Nicolls, and timid,ex Commissioner of Police Paul, in the same sentence recently? Just checking!
    Seriously folks , this DPP ,might be the last courageous , Civil Servant , with some level of influence , that is left standing, to push back against moral indecency, as played out by unmentionable political barbarians-in and out of political power-that are threatening ,to overrun de inherited, Trini Economic ,Perley Gates, si?
    As to the related subject at hand , all one can say is – ain’t this something? Then again, most likely-as we often say on de streets-‘someone has cocoa in the sun,’ or ‘de cap fits?’
    What do you b know , for legal luminaries ,left , right , and center , are jumping out of the woodwork ,to profess their innocence, and or , defending their AG, in his quest to investigate himself? Well, I’ll be dar..!


    Hey Khan, why not ask Inspector Khan ,your glorified lawyer son , or if you like president of the Amalgamated security.
    Maybe this is the problem we should be worried about Israel.


    Some would call it,’ Legal Double dipping,’and in your case ,triple dipping,
    and we know who were the two biggest culprits , as they both were most loud in their defense, of their boy AG Rammy, when he was caught with his teeny in the cookie jar.
    Ooops , can I be sued for that, or if I say, the only reason an unqualified son , of a top legal luminary, joined the ranks of hundreds of ‘pro PP , eat ah fooders,’ and was elevated to the job as Inspector of Prisons ,was because …? Well ,…. can someone fill in the blanks ?;
    Yep people, these are sadly,the same folks , who like to pontificate about over dependency on state hand outs,’ by others ,’ don’t mind privatization of our Prisons,the opportunity, to capture every available government contract available , 19,995, of the 20,000 government paid scholarships given, or ,as in this case ,legal briefs, on both sides of the Criminal Justice table ,where possible.
    There is much at stake folks, and work to be done .
    Got to give my old schoolmate , in Senior Council Gilbert Peterson, a call, as I tread forward,with my own HUMAN SECURITY Initiatives, since he had a grandma like I did , who also taught him that,’ one hand can’t clap.’
    The fight to save our T&T, can only be achieved with all hands on deck!
    Let’s strive to keep the power brokers honest!
    Say no to unpatriotic ,self serving elites, hell bent , on personal aggrandizement, all at our expense, si?

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