ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Two years of battling with government for damages for their wrongful detention at Her Majesty’s Prison ended in triumph yesterday for British friends Andrew Sharpe and Mark Smith, who have been awarded a combined $30,000 in damages plus legal costs.
However, the men have reserved comment on the victory as they have not yet seen the judgment, which was read in part by Justice Thomas Astaphan in the High Court yesterday.
Sharpe and Smith would each get $15,000. Out of the $15,000, the judgment, which was prepared by the trial Judge Jennifer Remy, outlined that $10,000 addresses vindicatory damages. In other words the payment is for the living conditions Sharpe and Smith had to endure while on remand at Her Majesty’s Prison for six months.
The remaining $5,000 for each man was awarded for their unlawful detention over the six-month period, when the prison authority failed to send them to court for their weekly remand.
Prison officials had also failed to deliver the men to a magistrate for their committal hearing in February 2010 to determine whether they had to stand trial in the High Court for fraud charges.
Earlier this year Crown Counsel Luann De Costa of the attorney general’s office admitted liability in the matter, but could not reach an agreement with the two men as to the sum for damages (money paid or claimed as compensation for harm, loss or injury).
Sharpe and Smith’s lawyer Ralph Francis and De Costa had to present arguments to the Court to assist the judge in assessing damages.
The history of the case dates back to October 2009 when Sharpe and Smith were arrested and charged for fraud.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)