High Court throws out $80M-plus lawsuit filed by Colwyn Harding
High Court Judge, Justice Navindra Singh on Monday threw out two lawsuits filed by Colwyn Harding – the man who alleged that the Police had sodomised him with a condom-covered baton back in November 2013.
Harding had sued the State for over $80 million in damages for torture and breach of his fundamental rights.
However, when the matter came up for hearing on Monday, Harding’s attorney failed to show up to court resulting in the trial Judge dismissing the two lawsuits.
Harding contended in the lawsuit that he was viciously assaulted by several members of the Guyana Police Force who entered his home on November 15, 2013. He also claimed that Police Constable Singh 19175 had inserted a foreign object into his anus, triggering a need for corrective surgery, and that the said rank repeatedly assaulted him in the Timehri Police Outpost between November 15, 2013 – November 18, 2013. As a result of the injuries sustained during the alleged assault, he developed an intestinal hernia and had to undergo multiple surgeries.
Constables Devin Singh and Rosell Tilbury were subsequently charged with assault causing actual bodily harm against the then 23-year-old man. Both officers have since been cleared of the charges due to insufficient evidence.
In the two lawsuits filed back in 2014, one was against the two cops, whom Harding alleged assaulted and battered him, causing him to sustain injuries.
However, the State had denied these claims. Specifically, the State asserted that the medical evidence did not support Harding’s contention of a foreign object being inserted into his anatomy, and that any surgical procedures undertaken were as a result of a medical condition which he had developed.
Harding was asking the court to grant him damages in excess of $100,000 for assault and battery between November 15 and 22, 2013, at Timehri, and exemplary damages.
Meanwhile, the second suit was filed against the Attorney General in which Harding alleged that his fundamental rights were breached as a result of the actions of the Police ranks.
He had asked the court to grant him damages in excess of $80 million for breach of his fundamental right to protection from torture and/or inhumane 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 Timehri.
Additionally, he sought damages in excess of $100,000 each for breach of his protected fundamental right to protection from inhumane treatment; for breach of his fundamental right to protection against an arbitrary search of his person as guaranteed by Article 143 of the Constitution; for breach of his right to protection against torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment as provided by Article 154 (a) of the Constitution; and for breach of his fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed by Article 139 of the Constitution, along with exemplary damages.
Harding also asked that the defendants in each action pay the costs of his legal fees for bringing the actions.
The trial into the two lawsuits was scheduled for commencement at 09:00h on Monday before Justice Singh.
But on that day, Counsel for the Attorney General was present, however, Harding’s lawyer was not present, and had not made any communication to the court.
The AG’s counsel informed the court that her records show the matter was fixed for 09:15h and so the trial Judge delayed the commencement to 9:25h in an effort to accommodate Harding’s attorney.
Subsequently, the AG’s counsel indicated to the court that an attorney-at-law for Harding had called to indicate that he would not be able to attend court until 09:30h or 09:45h.
In those circumstances, the counsel asked the court to dismiss both matters and that Harding pay the Attorney General’s costs in both dismissed actions.
Justice Singh granted the orders and dismissed the lawsuits for want of prosecution. He also awarded the Attorney General’s Chambers $100,000 in costs.