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Magistrate sues police commissioner over drink drive arrest

Khamisi Tokunbo outside Magistrates’ Court during his 2019 trial (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A magistrate has launched a legal action against the Commissioner of Police for unlawful arrest.

A writ was filed by lawyers at Resolution Chambers at the Supreme Court last week on behalf of Khamisi Tokunbo seeking unspecified damages.

Mr Tokunbo was arrested after a car crash in Paget on January 19, 2019.

He was charged with failure to provide a breath test. He denied the offence.

The case against him was dismissed in October that year after the police officer who arrested him was found to be biased.

Valdis Foldats, a magistrate from the Cayman Islands, ruled Mr Tokunbo’s detention after the crash was illegal because Colin Mill, the arresting officer, did not have “an honest subjective belief” that he had reasonable grounds to make the arrest.

The Bermuda Police Service said after the judgment it had been a “complicated case with many different factors” and the prosecution came about after consultation with the Department of Public Prosecutions “based on the evidence presented”.

Larry Mussenden, who was then the DPP, said the magistrate’s written judgment would be reviewed.

He added: “On the assessment of the evidence in the case file, this was a proper case to be put before the courts.”

The Magistrates’ Court trial heard that police were called to the crash, near the public entrance to Elbow Beach, and found Mr Tokunbo’s car “completely off the Road” over an embankment.

Mr Tokunbo and his friend, Allen Robinson, were in the vehicle at the time.

Pc Mill spoke to Mr Tokunbo, from Warwick, who denied that he had been behind the wheel.

The officer testified that Mr Tokunbo appeared to be unsteady on his feet and John Jefferis, a witness at the scene, was recorded on body camera telling Pc Mill he had pulled Mr Robinson from the passenger side of the crashed car.

Pc Mill was heard to tell the witness he did not want to let “someone like this get away with this s**t”.

Robinson pleaded guilty to refusal of a breath test in May 2019.

He was fined $1,000 and disqualified from driving for 18 months.

Mr Tokunbo could not be contacted and Victoria Greening, his lawyer, declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said: “The matter has been sent to a lawyer in the office of the Attorney-General for review.

“Given matters of legal privilege, no further comment can be made.”

•It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.