St. John’s Antigua- Former government minister Hilroy Humphreys has appealed the recent High Court ruling ordering him to pay $350,000 in damages to a man he is alleged of defrauding in a land transaction.
In confirming the appeal, his attorney at law, Septimus Rhudd told The Daily OBSERVER, “We are of the view that the judge made a monumental mistake in his interpretation of the law and the evidence and we propose to contest it most vigouroulsy.”
He does not expect the case to come up for hearing in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court before the latter part of next year, when it is due to sit in Antigua.
The civil suit brought by Antigua & Barbuda resident in New York, Ian Peters, dates back to 1990, when Humphreys was minister of agriculture and extends to 2003 when the land transaction took place.
Peters alleged that among other things, Humphreys sold him a lot at Mckinnons but transferred the parcel to himself while issuing a bogus land certificate to him. The claimant had intended to build a private residence on the land when he eventually retired and returned to Antigua.
Peters said the clearing of the land by someone other than himself back in February 2008 prompted him to check ownership with the Land Registry. Officials at the Department informed him that the “original” Land Certificate he presented “was not valid, was not issued out of Land Registry” and in fact “there was no record of the parcel of land being transferred to him.”
High Court Judge Mario Michel ruled at the end of August that Humphreys pay back the $350,000, the price paid for the land, plus interest at the rate of 5 per cent per annum from 10th December 2003 to the due date of the judgment.
He described the former agriculture minister’s testimony as lacking “credibility, cogency and consistency and leads inevitably and ineluctably to the conclusion that third the defendant’s evidence is not to be believed.”
Robert George Spencer, Patricia Simon-Forde, Ernest Gilead were also named as defendants but Michel dismissed the claim against them saying the real fraud was committed by Humphreys.
The judge said the former government minister had also committed fraud by diverting Peters off the track of the disputed parcel of land, onto another lot which another Ian Peters who lived at a different address had purchased from the Crown.