29th Mar 2021

Tom Poole Instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP (London) for the respondant.

Case summary

Issue
(1) Whether the judge was wrong to find that there was reasonable and probable cause to arrest the Appellant?
(2) If there was reasonable and probable cause, whether the judge was wrong to find that the period of the Appellant’s detention was justified?
(3) If the Appellant was falsely imprisoned, whether he is entitled to damages?

Facts
On 24 December 2005, Mr Betaudier, a serving Lance Corporal in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (“TTDF”), was driving a TTDF vehicle with Corporal Stevenson. His vehicle was stopped by officers of both the police and the TTDF on suspicion of transporting arms and ammunition. Mr Betaudier was found to be in possession of his licensed service firearm and $7,000 in cash, and Corporal Stevenson was found to be in possession of an unlicensed firearm. Mr Betaudier was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and Corporal Stevenson was arrested for unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

After the arrests, Mr Betaudier and Mr Stevenson were conveyed to the Central Police Station in Port of Spain. Mr Betaudier was taken to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit (“AKU”) on 25 December 2005 for interview. On the evening of 26 December 2005, his file was reviewed by the Head of the AKU and, after a further interview, Mr Betaudier was told that he was free to go.

On 22 December 2009, Mr Betaudier filed and served a claim in the High Court seeking damages for false imprisonment arising from his arrest, detention and imprisonment from 24 December 2005 to 26 December 2005. The claim was dismissed by the High Court on 28 March 2013. The Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Betaudier’s appeal, by a majority, on 10 March 2017. Mr Betaudier now appeals to the Judicial Committee, having been granted final leave to appeal on 16 October 2017.

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