Derek Achong

A police officer, who was arrested after her boyfriend was held for stealing from a Customs and Excise Division warehouse in 2015, has won her wrongful arrest and false imprisonment lawsuit against the State.

Delivering a judgment in WPC Terebett Dehere’s lawsuit, High Court Judge Avason Quinlan-Williams ordered $75,000 in compensation as she ruled that the officers did not have reasonable or probable cause to suspect that she was involved in the theft.

“The court is satisfied that none of the officers involved in the claimant’s arrest and detention had an honest belief or suspicion that the claimant had committed an offence. There were no objective factors, based on the evidence, for the arresting officers to have formed that conclusion,” Quinlan-Williams said.

According to the evidence in the case, in December 2015, Dehere’s then boyfriend, also a police officer, was arrested and charge with another man for stealing a quantity of liquor and electronics from the division’s warehouse.

Dehere was arrested as she attended his first court appearance in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court with his mother. She was detained for six and a half hours before she was eventually released without being charged.

In her judgment, Quinlan-Williams ruled that the officers did not have any evidence that Dehere was involved in the burglary or was storing the stolen items, which would have been required to legitimately arrest her.

“The defendants have led no evidence to show that the claimant received any stolen property knowing same to be stolen. In searching the home of the claimant it appears that they were on a fishing exercise,” she said.

In assessing the compensation for Dehere, Quinlan-Williams noted that she was arrested in front of colleagues and was taken to her home in handcuffs to witness the search.

“Undoubtedly these events would have caused the claimant to feel embarrassed, humiliated and caused injury to her reputation as she was in full view of her neighbours and persons she knew,” Quinlan-Williams said.

She also ruled that $75,000 plus interest was fair, reasonable and sufficient compensation as the officers’ conduct was not so outrageous to justify an addition award of damages.

Dehere was represented by Lemuel Murphy and Abigail Roach while Stefan Jaikaran and Savitri Maharaj represented the State.