A TOBAGO man has initiated legal action against the State for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and breach of his rights.
The man was arrested three times by police on alleged outstanding maintenance orders when there were none against him.
Attorneys Martin George and Janelle Ramsaroop on Wednesday issued a pre-action protocol letter to the Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on behalf of Curtis Carrington.
Carrington is the father of one child who turned 21 in March. The periods for which it is alleged he owed were long after his child turned 18.
The letter said around 2011, his ex-wife took him to court for maintenance and an order was made for payments of $100 per week to be paid by him until the child turned 18, or until further ordered.
The letter also said up until 2017, when the child turned 18, Carrington made all his payments, never defaulting as the money was taken directly out of his bank account and paid directly to the Family Court in Port of Spain.
Carrington even overpaid by one month.
According to the letter, Carrington was first arrested on November 6, 2017, for non-payment of maintenance in the sum of $2,500 for the period ending July 31, 2017, although his child was 18.
He was only allowed to leave the police station after he paid the alleged outstanding sum “which he was not owing, but due to the bumbling incompetence of the officers of the State.”
One week later, on November 13, 2017, he was yet again arrested on a warrant for $2,400 in arrears of maintenance for June 23-August 17, 2017.
Again, he had to pay the money before being released from the police station.
After the second arrest, Carrington went to the Family Court which reimbursed him the $2,400.
The letter said the Family Court acknowledged that some sort of error was made and again on March 4, 2020, Carrington was arrested for a third time for $1,500 in outstanding maintenance arrears for April 14-May18, 2017.
As on the first two occasions, the letter said Carrington was held in a filthy cell at the Scarborough police station, without food or water, until his family was able to scrape together the money to pay the alleged arrears.
He again returned to the Family Court and again refunded the $1,500. The letter also pointed out that a different case number was mentioned by the court and not his.
“To date, there has been no acknowledgement or apology forthcoming in relation to these three occasions of wrongful arrest and false imprisonment out our client which, as it seems, may have been based on administrative and clerical errors within the Family Court of TT whether it be wrong date of birth of the said child or whether our client’s matter was confused with another.
“Our client has had to forcefully pay a burdensome penalty for these mistakes,” the letter said.
It added that after three years, it was clear that “these outrageous errors” have not been addressed or corrected and it was “only a matter of time until” Carrington was again arrested “on these ludicrous, baseless, vexatious, purported and alleged outstanding maintenance payments” for the period after which the child had already turned 18.
The Office of the AG was given 14 days in which to respond.