Court dismisses Colwyn Harding claims – awards $2M costs against him
Claims by Mr. Colwyn Harding dismissed for his failure to comply with Court Order; Justice Navindra Singh awards costs in the sum of 1 million dollars ($1,000,000) each to the Attorney General, and Devin Singh; Mr. Harding also fails to present himself for the prosecution of his claims.
- The two claims filed by Colwyn Harding on 21st March 2014 stood dismissed when they came up for hearing today before Justice Navindra Singh after Mr. Harding failed to comply with a previous Court Order. Justice Singh also ordered costs against Mr. Harding in the sum of one million dollars ($1,000,000) in both actions. Incidentally, Mr. Harding also failed to present himself at the beginning of the trial for his actions when they came up for hearing today, 27th July 2021.
- On 1st February 2021, Justice Navindra Singh had dismissed the actions for want of prosecution. He subsequently granted an Order recalling that previous order on the condition that Mr. Harding pay to the Attorney General and Police Constable, Mr. Devin Singh, the two (2) Respondents $150,000.00 costs each on or before the 16th July 2021.
- As these payments remained unpaid as of this morning’s hearing, Justice Navindra Singh indicated that both actions stood dismissed, and awarded costs to the Attorney General and Devin Singh in the sum of one million dollars ($1,000,000) each.
History of the claims
- The claims – Colwyn Harding v. T. Thomas (Police Constable 20411) and Devin Singh (Police Constable 19175) 2014-HC-DEM-VIC-W-114 and Colwyn Harding v. Attorney General 2014-HC-DEM-CIV-W-113) – were filed on 21st March 2014.
- In Colwyn Harding v. T. Thomas (Police Constable 20411) and Devin Singh (Police Constable 19175) 2014-HC-DEM-VIC-W-114,Mr. Harding alleged that he was assaulted and battered by members of the Guyana Police Force, including one Police Constable Devin Singh, and thus sustained injuries. In this action, Mr. Harding asked the Court to grant him the following Orders:
- “Damages in excess of $100,000 (on hundred thousand dollars) for assault and battery between the 15th and 22nd days of November 2013 at Timerhi;”
- “Exemplary damages.
- In Colwyn Harding v. Attorney General 2014-HC-DEM-CIV-W-113, Mr. Harding alleged that his fundamental rights were breached, and asked the Court to grant him the following Orders:
- “Damages in excess of $80,000,000.00 (eighty million dollars) for breach of the plaintiff’s fundamental right to protection from torture and or inhuman and degrading treatment as guaranteed by Article 141 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana between the 18th day of November 2013 and the 24th day of December 2014 at Timerhi, East Bank Demerara;”
- “Damages in excess of $100,000.00 (on hundred thousand dollars) for breach of the plaintiff’s protected fundamental right to protection from inhuman treatment between the 15th day of November, 2013 and the 24th day of November 2014;”
- “Damages in excess of $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) for breach of the plaintiff’s fundamental right to protection against arbitrary search of his person as guaranteed by Article 143 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana between the 15th day of November 2013 and 22nd November, 2013 at Timerhi, East Bank Demerara;”
- “Damages in excess of $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) for breach of the plaintiff’s right to protection against torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment as provided by Article 154A of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Convention against Torture and Other Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;”
- “Damages in excess of $100,000 (on hundred thousand dollars) for breach of the plaintiff’s fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed b Article 139 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana between the 15th and 20th day of November, 2013 at Timerhi, East Bank Demerara;” and
- Exemplary Damages.
Notice to withdraw and discontinue
- A notice to withdraw and discontinue the claims was filed on 26th July 2021, and came up for hearing on 27th July 2021, at which time Counsel for Mr. Harding explained that there had been difficulties contacting Mr. Harding, and that continuing efforts were made until 24th July 2021.
- However, Justice Navindra Singh indicated that since his conditions were not complied with, the claims already stood dismissed as of the date of non-compliance.
- The State asked to be heard on the issue of costs, arguing that:
- the actions had been engaging the Courts since 21st March 2014,
- considerable preparation, time and resources had been spent on the matters as five (5) witness statements had been filed by the State inclusive of that of a medical expert;
- the medical expert was required to analyse in excess of some one hundred and twenty-three (123) pages medical records of Mr. Harding;
- the issues required research by the State as the tenor of the case turned on medical evidence.
- the pleadings for the Plaintiff contradicted the injuries he claimed that he sustained;
- Mr. Harding claimed $80,000,000.00 (eighty million dollars) alleging constitutional violations by members of the Guyana Police Force and sought to bring the integrity of the Guyana Police Force into disrepute; and
- these allegations were denied vehemently by the State from the inception.
- The State also pointed out that Counsel for Mr. Harding did not state at which point there had been difficulty locating him for trial on 27th July 2021. Instead, Counsel for Mr. Harding issued a blanket statement to the effect that searches were made “continuing until the 24th July 2021.”
- Subsequent to this morning’s hearing, the Attorney General’s Chambers was informed by the Administration Department of the Guyana Prison Service that Mr. Harding was released on bail in the sum of $70,000.00 (seventy thousand dollars) on 21st April 2021.
- It will be recalled that in March 2014, when Harding made his allegation that members of the Guyana Police force violently beat him and inserted a police baton in his anus, the allegations excited much public controversy.
- Many organisations came out in condemnation of the Guyana Police Force, obviously believing Mr. Harding’s allegations to be true and correct.
- The Guyana Police Force had vehemently denied the allegations and had publicly disclosed that a doctor had examined Harding and did not find evidence of the injuries which he claimed he sustained at the hands of the police.
- Police Constable Devin Singh, against whom the allegations were made, received several death threats, and was forced to flee his home and live elsewhere for several years. To date, he remains interdicted from duty since 2014.
- After such irreparable damage done to members of the Guyana Police Force, the State, and Police Constable Devin Singh, Mr. Harding eludes coming to Court to present his case, and defend the grave, and serious allegations he made.
- Harding was represented by Mr. Nigel Hughes, Attorney-at-law.
- Appearing for the Attorney General was Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC MP, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Ms. Beverley Bishop-Cheddie, Assistant Solicitor General, Ms. Loretta Noel, Senior Legal Advisor, Ms. Tiffini Barton, State Counsel, and Mr. Chevy Devonish, State Counsel.