by Derek Achong
T&T Police Service (TTPS) Legal Unit Head Christian Chandler was tonight slapped with five criminal charges arising out of an incident aboard a yacht on August 5.
Guardian Media understands that detectives of the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) began charging Chandler, who was detained at the Maloney Police Station since Wednesday evening, shortly after 8 pm yesterday. Chandler was charged under section 3(1)(c) of the Emergency Powers (No 2) Regulations of 2021, which currently makes it an offence to be found at any beach, sea, river, stream, pond, spring or similar body of water for recreational purposes.
The maximum penalty for a breach of the regulations is a $250,000 fine and six months in prison. He is also accused twice under section 206 of the Defence Force Act of wilfully obstructing members of the T&T Coast Guard.
That charge carries a $750 fine and up to three months in prison on summary conviction. Two more charges for possession of a firearm without a Firearm User’s Licence (FUL) were also said to be laid.
Guardian Media understands that once the charges were laid, Chandler’s lawyers Wayne Sturge and Alexia Romero were expected to attempt to get bail from a Justice of the Peace, so that he can be released from detention pending a court hearing to answer the charges.
According to reports, Chandler was among 14 people detained aboard a pleasure craft off the coast of Chaguaramas and escorted to Staubles Bay by Coast Guard officers on August 5. The T&T Coast Guard said it had received information that a pleasure craft allegedly had more than five people aboard, contrary to the public health regulations.
On August 16, Chandler proceeded on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.Guardian Media understands that three Special Reserve Police (SRPs) were also arrested in relation to the case on Wednesday and were expected to be charged for a similar breach of the regulations and for obstructing the Coast Guard personnel.
Guardian Media understands that Chandler was interviewed by PSB detectives on Thursday and was placed on an identification parade, yesterday afternoon. Chandler’s lawyers initially threatened legal action as they questioned why the investigation was not completed before their client’s arrest.
They also accused investigators of denying him food from his family and attempting to have him implicate himself while being interrogated. In a response to Chandler’s lawyers, TTPS legal officer Tsonda Gayle called upon them to hold their hands on filing a habeas corpus over their client’s detention and suggested that 48 hours detention without charge was reasonable.