State asks court to set aside $20m judgment to ex-Vindra accused

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC – Photo by Sureash Cholai

THE STATE is asking the court to set aside the default judgment and the $20 million awarded to the nine men accused of the kidnapping and murder of businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman almost two months ago.

In a brief statement at 6 pm on Monday, the Office of the Attorney General said an application was filed on behalf of the State on the advice of retired judge Rolston Nelson, SC.

The release said the application is to set aside both the default judgment and the award of damages made against the State in favour of the nine.

“Attorney General (Reginald) Armour SC awaits the fixing of the date for the hearing of this application and remains consistent in his commitment to ensuring that the public continues to be updated on the progress of this matter,” the release said.

On January 30, Master Martha Alexander awarded the men $2 million each in an assessment of their malicious prosecution claim which went undefended by the State.

Two days after the court’s award to the nine, Armour held a news conference and revealed that the first time his office heard of the malicious prosecution claim was when the decision was given.

He said the file had gone missing.

Nelson was retained to advise on the “provenance of the decision” and the next move in the debacle, while another retired judge, Stanley John, was hired to probe the circumstances behind the disappearance of the file and identify what went wrong in the Office of the AG that led to the State failing to defend the claim.

On February 7, in a bizarre development involving the file, John said the file had been found and handed over to the acting solicitor general.

He gave no details on where the file was found or by whom.

John is expected to deliver to Armour his findings on his investigation by Friday, he said in a public statement on February 11.

John leads a two-member team which includes former ACP Pamela Schullera-Hinds.

The team’s terms of reference were to look into the facts and circumstances from the time the men’s claim was served on the State in June 2022, a month after it was filed; the court’s decision and the handing over of the file on February 6.

They also considered the roles of the relevant office holders in the State’s civil law department to determine if there was any dereliction of duty, violation of laws, conflicts of interest or breach of trust.

The Opposition has used the bungling of the case to call for Armour’s resignation and also filed a motion of no confidence against the AG while also calling on the Law Association and the police to investigate him.