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Kingston businessman awarded damages over unlawful police search of his vessel

Published:Friday | February 21, 2014 | 5:11 PM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

Kingston businessman, David Chin, was today awarded damages in a lawsuit he brought against the government for breaching his constitutional rights.

Chin argued that the Government acted beyond its powers under the Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) Act when the police allowed his vessel to be searched with the assistance of United States Coast Guard personnel.

The Attorney General was the defendant in the case.

The US Coast Guard was originally named as a defendant but the court was informed that it was not served and therefore was no longer a party to the proceedings.

In addition to arguing that the search of his vessel breached his rights, Chin said he lost money as he was unable to sell his fish because the vessel was detained.

The court was told that the search was conducted because army officials had intelligence that the businessman was bringing back cocaine to the island from a fishing trip to a South American country.

No drugs were found during search of the vessel.

In handing down his ruling today, Supreme Court judge Justice David Batts said the Jamaican police acted unlawfully when they allowed Chin’s vessel to be searched with assistance from law enforcement personnel from the US.

Chin was awarded $255,000 in special damages and $500,000 in general damages.

The government was ordered to pay three percent interest on each award from November 20, 2009 to February 21, 2014.


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