Govt, cops to pay K260,000

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THE Waigani National Court yesterday ordered the Government to pay K240,890 in damages to a man whose properties were destroyed by police in a raid for suspects wanted for a double murder in Port Moresby’s Gordon Ridge 5-Mile in 2009. Justice Collin Makail granted the damages sought by Robin Martin against former Supt Andy Bawa (first respondent), former National Capital District metropolitan superintendent Fred Yakasa (second respondent), former police commissioner Gari Baki (third respondent) and the state as fourth defendant. The cause of action is based on the tort of trespass to property and negligence.
The facts of case read that on the morning of June 26, 2009, in pursuit of suspects involved in a double-murder of two young men, Bawa and Yakasa led a group of policemen, entered and destroyed properties at Gordon Ridge 5-Mile settlement by chopping down trees and plants and pulling down structures after receiving no assistance and cooperation from the occupants to locate the suspects.
In the process, they destroyed Martin’s properties comprising a dwelling house, personal items, tucker-shop and its goods.
Based on photograph and state lease, the judge accepted that Martin owned a permanent two-bedroom house on a registered state lease described as Section 116 Allotment 10, Boroko, National Capital District, and the tucker shop was located in the that house.
Justice Makail further ordered that:

  • BAWA and Yakasa shall each pay K5,000 as exemplary damages to Martin;
  • THE State (Government) shall pay K10,000 as exemplary damages to Martin; and,
  •  THE respondents shall pay pre-judgment interest and post-judgment interest at the rate of two per cent from the date of trial to the date of judgment and until final settlement on the sum of K240,890 pursuant to Section 4 of the Judicial Proceedings (Interest on Debts and Damages) Act, 2015.

The judge also endorsed exemplary damages sought against the State because of the actions of Bawa and Yakasa and policemen.
Justice Makail said it was common ground between the parties that it was one of the discretionary relief which could be awarded and has compensatory element to punish the respondents and serve as a moral retribution and deterrence.