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Trinidad: Woman framed by cops on drug charges gets $240,000

By Trinidad Guardian

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(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – A moth­er of two of Princes Town, who was framed by po­lice for co­caine traf­fick­ing af­ter they ex­tort­ed $100,000 from her hus­band, has been award­ed $240,000 in com­pen­sa­tion.

De­liv­er­ing a 48-page judg­ment on Thurs­day, High Court judge Mar­garet Mo­hammed or­dered the dam­ages for An­isha Raf­fick, of Bor­de Narve Vil­lage, Princes Town, as she up­held her ma­li­cious pros­e­cu­tion and false im­pris­on­ment claim against the State.

Mo­hammed said she found Raf­fick’s ver­sion of what tran­spired when she was ar­rest­ed in No­vem­ber 2013, more plau­si­ble than the po­lice.

In her claim, Raf­fick said that a dozen of­fi­cers knocked on the front door and told her fa­ther that they had a war­rant in the name of her hus­band Randy Lawrence to search for il­le­gal arms and am­mu­ni­tion.

She claimed that they were not shown the war­rant but al­lowed the of­fi­cers to search the house as she, her hus­band, their two daugh­ters, her par­ents and sib­lings wait­ed in the liv­ing room area.

With­in a minute of en­ter­ing the cou­ple’s bed­room, one of­fi­cer came out with a black bag which he claimed con­tained a large quan­ti­ty of co­caine.

Raf­fick ad­mit­ted that she claimed own­er­ship of the bag af­ter the of­fi­cers threat­ened to ar­rest and charge her en­tire fam­i­ly and take away her chil­dren. How­ev­er, both Raf­fick and her hus­band were ar­rest­ed.

She claimed that when they were tak­en to the po­lice sta­tion she was present when the of­fi­cers were de­mand­ing a $100,000 bribe from her hus­band to set him free.

She ad­mit­ted that her hus­band com­plied but the of­fi­cers were adamant that she had to still be charged for the drugs.

The charge against Raf­fick was even­tu­al­ly dis­missed in 2015 af­ter a cer­tifi­cate of analy­sis from the Foren­sic Sci­ence Cen­tre re­vealed that the item con­tained in the bag was not co­caine or any oth­er il­le­gal drug.

In analysing the ev­i­dence in the case, Mo­hammed ruled that she be­lieved Raf­fick’s claim that the of­fi­cers had no war­rant at the time of the search as there were mul­ti­ple in­con­sis­ten­cies in the po­lice of­fi­cers’ ev­i­dence. The war­rant was al­so not pro­duced by the State in the case.

She al­so ruled that Raf­fick’s claim that the al­leged drugs were plant­ed by the of­fi­cers.

“I am sat­is­fied that there was co­gent and com­pelling ev­i­dence that the black plas­tic bag con­tain­ing the al­leged co­caine was plant­ed by the po­lice of­fi­cers who searched the mid­dle bed­room since they had the op­por­tu­ni­ty to do so as no oc­cu­pant from the house was present dur­ing the search of the mid­dle bed­room,” Mo­hammed said.

Mo­hammed al­so ruled that Raf­fick’s con­fes­sion was not le­git­i­mate.

“In my opin­ion, the on­ly rea­son­able con­tention is that of Raf­fick which is she on­ly made the con­fes­sion out of gear since based on one of the of­fi­cer’s state­ment her fam­i­ly was to be ar­rest­ed and her chil­dren was to be tak­en away by child ser­vices,” she said.

In deal­ing with the is­sue of the al­le­ga­tion of the bribe de­mand­ed from her hus­band, Mo­hammed not­ed that it was dif­fi­cult to prove as Lawrence did not tes­ti­fy in the case and there was no ev­id­nece of mon­ey be­ing paid.

How­ev­er, she said it was plau­si­ble based on the fact that Lawrence was ar­rest­ed even af­ter Raf­fick con­fessed and was re­leased an hour af­ter she was charged.

“It was high­ly sus­pi­cious that about an hour af­ter Raf­fick signed the con­fes­sion which she said was part of the agree­ment ar­rived in the room up­stairs that Lawrence was re­leased with­out charge giv­en that the al­leged co­caine was found in the mid­dle bed­room which he oc­cu­pied,” she said.

In al­so deal­ing with whether po­lice act­ed ma­li­cious­ly in charg­ing Raf­fick, Mo­hammed not­ed that his ap­proach in pros­e­cut­ing the case was lais­sez-faire.

In cal­cu­lat­ing com­pen­sa­tion for Raf­fick, Mo­hammed con­sid­ered the 11 days she spent on re­mand be­fore she was able to ac­cess bail.

While Raf­fick claimed that she was suf­fered hu­mil­i­a­tion and ridicule as a re­sult of the in­ci­dent, Mo­hammed not­ed that she did not ad­duce ev­i­dence to but­tress her claim.

Raf­fick was rep­re­sent­ed by Ganesh Sa­roop and Haresh Ram­nath while Ronelle Hinds and Kendra Mark rep­re­sent­ed the State.

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