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Family gets $600,000 for destroyed home

By AZARD ALI Tuesday, April 22 2014

FOR demolishing the home of a man and his five children eight years ago in central Trinidad, a landlord has been ordered to pay an estimated $600,000 in damages.

In was on the morning of April 4, 2006, when Harrypersad Angad Lutchman, 63, was greeted by men who climbed on the roof of his home at Orange Field Road, Carapichaima. It was a rude awakening for his children, Bishma, 24, Tara, 22, Tosha, 20, Sadhna, 17, and Amit, 16. Master of the High Court Martha Alexander stated that for two days, men rummaged through Lutchman’s house, removing furniture, household items, books and other personal belongings. The men, according to Alexander’s written judgment delivered last Wednesday in the Port-of- Spain High Court, were acting on instructions from Shukur Shakeer and Syed Fadil Shakeer to evict the Lutchmans. The Master stated approximately 40 men had descended on the property on the second day and demolished the house.

Lutchman claimed he had been occupying the land before the Shakeers laid claim to the six and a half lots.

After a trial, the judge ruled in Lutchman’s favour on January 16, 2013. The ruling was that the Shakeers were not bona fide purchasers of the land and their act of demolishing Lutchman’s house were arbitrary. Attorney Ken Sagar, instructed by attorney Yaseen Ahmed, represented Lutchman. The judge ordered assessment of the damages which Alexander dealt with in her 14-page judgment. Lutchman had also claimed that jewelry and money went missing from his home after the demolition.

Alexander, in describing the actions, stated in her judgment that on the morning of April 5, Lutchman’s property was once again trespassed upon when a green-band maxi taxi arrived with 35 to 40 men who broke down the door and entered. The men left nothing standing, the master quoted Lutchman’s testimony, adding that most of the family’s furniture in the house were smashed and thrown out.

Alexander went on to state that the acts of trespass occurred over two days, and, the commotion attracted neighbours who congregated outside the house taking photos. The demolition was highlighted in the media. The Master stated, “This undoubtedly must have been a source of embarrasment and torture, and humiliation to Lutchman. When one considers the ripping off of the roof of the house, the throwing of items from the upstairs to the ground below, the destruction of the fixtures such as toilets, doors and windows, the flinging of personal items of clothing onto the streets, it is clear that this is a case which is deserving of an award for exemplary damages.” Alexander awarded Lutchman $25,000 in exemplary damages.

She ordered that the defendants pay $361,084.51 with interest, at the rate of five percent per annum, to Lutchman, from April 5, 2006 to April 16, 2014. They are to pay him costs of $17,954.50, as well as payment of his expert witnesses in the sum of $12,500.

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