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HomeLOCAL NEWSCourtPOLICE OFFICER MOHOMMID LAVIA ESCAPES LIABILITY FOR ALLEGEDLY SHOOTING OKENO FERGUS

POLICE OFFICER MOHOMMID LAVIA ESCAPES LIABILITY FOR ALLEGEDLY SHOOTING OKENO FERGUS

On a technicality, the case against Mohommid Lavia, a police officer in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force was dismissed by Acting Registrar Tamara Gill in a ruling recently.

It was alleged that on March 3, 2019 at about 3:00 am that Officer Lavia pelted a bottle at Mr. Okeno Fergus while he was leaving a fete and bingo in Sandy Bay.

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The bottle missed the intended target at which time Mr Fergus further alleged that Lavia pulled out his gun from his waist and shot him in his left leg thereby causing injury.

Lawyer Jomo Thomas brought a case for Damages against the Attorney General and Officer Lavia but the case could not proceed due to requirements by the law to deliver a notice in writing of the intended action on each defendant.

Section 3 of the Crown Proceedings Act states:

No action shall be brought against any public officer for anything done, or purported to  be done, in  the  exercise  of  his  office  unless  and  until  two  calendar  months  after notice  in  writing  has  been  delivered  to  him  or  left  at  his  usual  place  of  residence with  some  person  there, by  the  party  who  intends  to  bring  such  action  or  his  legal practitioner or agent, and in every such notice shall be clearly and explicitly stated –

(a)the cause of action;

(b)the name of the person who is bringing the action; and

(c)the name and address of his legal practitioner or agent, if any,

and  no  evidence  of  the  cause  of  action  shall  be  produced,  except  in  so  far  as  the cause of action has been spelt out in the notice.

The court noted that initially Officer Lavia had sworn by affidavit that he was not served with the notice of the intended action. However, at the hearing, the defendant represented by Mrs Cerepha Harper-Joseph did not challenge the affidavit evidence of High Court Bailiff Mr Marvin Mulcaire that he did indeed serve Officer Lavia.

The remaining issue related to the Attorney General who maintained that he was not served with the notice as required by law.

The court heard hearsay evidence which it did not accept that a former office attendant at Jomo Thomas’ Chambers served the notice on the Attorney General’s Chambers on April 24th, 2019. Without clear evidence, the court said that:

“claimant has failed to prove that the Attorney General was served with the notice as is required by section 3 of the Act.

“The  claimant  has  failed  to satisfy  the  mandatory  condition  precedent  to  the  filing  of  the  claim. Based  on  the  unchallenged  evidence  on  behalf  of  the  Attorney  General  that  he  was  not  served, and  the  failure  of  the  claimant  to  prove  that  he  was,  the  claimant  is  in  breach  of  section  3 and section  5(a)  of  the  Act.  Section  5  mandates  that  the  claim  be  dismissed  or otherwise  terminated. The court has no discretion in this matter. This claim is obviously unsustainable and must be struck out as an abuse of the process of the court”.

With the case falling on the grounds of the technical issue with regards to filing, Officer Lavia did not have to answer the civil case as to whether he was liable for causing injury to Mr Fergus.

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