(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.