Court Threw Out Theft Charges, Now They Want Gov’t To Pay
THREE police officers who were suspended a year ago after being charged with theft have been reinstated and are now planning to sue the government.
The High Court last month discharged the cases against the trio during a sufficiency hearing.
Sergeant Jerson Charlemagne, Corporal Sylvester Joseph and Constable Ted Biscette, each with more than 20 years of service in the Police Force, were suspended for allegedly stealing EC$5,000 belonging to the Government of St. Lucia. They are now claiming that the charges against them had tarnished their integrity and public perception of them.
The charges filed against them ranged from stealing by employee, to failure/refusal to deliver money and false attestation.
The three made court appearances last year and were placed on bail and suspended from duties with half pay.
Acting Police Commissioner Errol Alexander, at the time spoke of zero tolerance for this level of behaviour from officers.
“It is unacceptable and inexcusable, period,” Alexander said then.
Alexander retired earlier this year; however his successor, Severin Moncherry was the one who signed letters of reinstatement for the three policemen , which indicated a return of full salaries to be paid to them during the time they were out on suspension.
The men did not take the charges against them lightly and sought legal assistance in clearing their names claiming that the charges that were brought against them were bogus.
One of them in particular noted that the charges were some sort of a smear campaign against him to thwart his plans for promotional advancement in the police force.
Although the men have welcomed the Court ruling they are not prepared to let the matter rest and will this week sit down with their attorney to file a lawsuit against the office of the Police Commissioner for malicious prosecution and defamation of character, among other charges.
“I am of a strong view that what took place was deliberate, seeing that during the time we were out several promotions were made and we were not part of that process,” one of the men told The VOICE in an exclusive interview.
It was Alexander and members of the police hierarchy who last year alerted the nation to the charges against the three men who at the time were stationed at the Richfond, Dennery Police Station. They have now been reassigned.
Alexander at the time had said that “the unwavering and unanimous position of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force in matters where professional and organizational guidelines are compromised is clear and unambiguous.”
The matter of the alleged theft was brought to the attention of the police hierarchy by the government’s audit department after doing one of its spot checks of the police department in 2013. Officers assigned to investigate the matter completed their investigations and submitted the files to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, which took close to two years to make a judgment which led to the officers being charged in June of last year.