Cucum to sue for wrongful arrest
There is growing concern about arbitrary arrests and lengthy detention on remand awaiting trial
Claudius "Cucum" Letang, who is accusing the police of bungling the investigation, has indicted his intent to seek redress from the court following his "wrongful" incarceration for burglary to his home.
Letang avers, due to the emotional distress and damage to his reputation, which he suffered, warrants reimbursement from the government of Dominica.
In 2020, Letang was arrested and charged with burglary.
The police allege that between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 23, 2020, at Wall House, Letang entered as a trespasser into a particular building known as the dwelling house of Kidd Thomas and stole therein two copies of Certificate of Land Title to a nominal value in the name of Claudius Letang belonging to Kidd Thomas of Wall House.
However, on April 1, 2022, the Director of Public Prosecution, Sherma Dalrymple, filed a notice of discontinuance under the provisions of Section 72(2) (c) of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica against the accused man.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Letang explained how his running with the law came to be.
"I lived in the house for some time, and then I allowed a guy Kidd Thomas to live in the house. When I saw the condition, he had the house I tell him I'm selling the house to him. We agreed on the amount of $580,000.00, but he gave me a deposit of $120,000." With a balance of over $400,000.00, Letang stated he and the now-deceased man agreed that the home title would be transferred after he was paid in full.
"He made fraudulent papers claiming that the $120,000.00 was the amount I sold the house to him. After some years, the guy died, and I went to see what happen with my house. While I there police came and arrested me and charged me for burglary."
Following the charges preferred against him, he was taken before Magistrate Michale Laudat, who, according to him, denied bail in the matter.
"I was on remand for three weeks, and before going to court, I was in the cells for three days. That day in court, several lawyers told the Magistrate that it would cost the government money if he send me to jail, but he still did it. They recommended that he bail me and the police investigate the matter, but the prosecution convinced Mr Laudat to send me to jail."
"When my lawyer went to the High Court to get bail for me, the High Court told them that is madness, and Mr Laudat, who sent me to jail, was forced to bail me," Letang informed.
Since the "erroneous" matter has been discontinued, Letang contends, the government must pay for the damages he sustained.
"The police did not take their time to investigate the matter properly, so they charge me for breaking and entering into my own house, the same house I am living in," he said. "I'm going to file a lawsuit against the Attorney General for wrongful arrest and detention."
The Sun has since been informed that Letang's attorneys, Julien Prevost and Jilane Prevost of Prevost & Prevost Chambers, have commenced pre-action protocol to the AG outlining the claim.
Should the matter not be dealt with amicably out of court, the attorneys will file a lawsuit.
"If we go to court, I think I have a good chance of winning," Letang optimistically expressed. "I think that the prosecution and the police should have investigated this matter properly before they arrested me and send me in the cell and then to jail."
He continued, "This man lived in my house for 15 years and never gave me a penny of what he owed me, so after he died, I went back into my home, and I was wrongfully arrested."
Letang asserts due to the media publicity on the matter, his reputation was smeared.
According to information provided to The Sun, another individual on remand for over five years and recently had his case discontinued is in discussion with his attorney to file similar actions.
There appears to be growing concern, at the highest levels, about the ineffective criminal justice system here and in the Caribbean, which generates cases like Letang's.
"A criminal justice system must be fair and must be seen to be fair and above all it must be effective in protecting the rights of all," said Justice Jacob Wit of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) a the recent regional symposium of violence and crime held in Trinidad.