Battling senior scores a moral victory but he's run out of cash
JOHN Nathaniel Darrell is a 64-year-old veteran of a battle against cancer, has limited resources and believes he has been cheated out of his property.Even a lawyer from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who studied details of his long-running, agreed that Mr. Darrell had been "unfairly dispossessed of his land".Yet after numerous efforts to reclaim the Southampton property that had been in his family since the 19th century, he has now come to the stage where there is little else he can do to right the wrongs of the past, besides taking out a civil case that he cannot afford.In effect, the DPP lawyer's report amounts to solely a moral victory for Mr. Darrell.In today's
Mid-Ocean News, Mr. Darrell has taken out a two-page advertisement, featuring many of the documents he has accumulated during the four decades or so that he has been fighting to reclaim his property.Mr. Darrell has written to politicians, the Governor, the police and even the Queen during the course of his 40-year legal battle with the Government.The cost of numerous unsuccessful court battles to reclaim the property he said was unjustifiably taken from him has used up almost all of the retired stonecutter's financial resources. Mr. Darrell believed that when the Riviera Estate Road was built, it went through his property without his permission.Anthony Blackman, the DPP lawyer who studied Mr. Darrell's case last year, said he had no doubt Mr. Darrell had been the victim of "professional negligence", particularly when a plan produced in 1932 named a non-existent person, Benjamin Darrell, as the owner of the Darrell family's property."I've been ready to go ahead with further action for a year now," said Mr. Darrell. "It seems that the police and Mr. Blackman agree with what I'm saying, but everyone just keeps passing me on to the next person."Nobody wants to deal with this, but the issue of land ownership is very important."Asked if he intended to pursue a civil case, Mr. Darrell said: "No, there's no money there and who do I fight?"Mr. Blackman's work came after Mr. Darrell claimed to have been the victim of fraud. But no evidence of fraud could be found, so no criminal case was brought.Mr. Darrell claimed there had been a cover-up over land he alleged had been stolen from his grandfather Emilius Darrell in 1962.In 1979, a survey by Robert H. Clarke showed that the land allegedly owned by the non-existent Benjamin Darrell, Horace Cooper and the Government was in fact owned by Mr. Darrell and that the Riviera Estate Road had cut though a portion of his property.Three years later, Mr. Darrell discovered two plans at the Department of Planning, both of which confirmed the Government's ownership of the property in question - in conflict with all the deeds and plans in existence.In his report, dated August 8 last year, Mr. Blackman concluded: "There is no doubt in my mind that the virtual complainant has been unfairly dispossessed of his land."From the documents submitted, I am of the opinion that the Riviera Estate Road does in fact pass through the complainant's property."Mr. Blackman added that there was "evidence of shoddy work by the professional surveyors and some attorneys" and he went on: "What is obvious to me is professional negligence and a blatant breach of the Rules of Natural Justice."Mr. Blackman found no evidence of fraudulent conduct and concluded that Mr. Darrell's case was a civil matter.He added: "Considering the amount of litigation that has already taken place and the financial status of the complainant, I am afraid that unless he receives some gratuitous payment / compensation, his efforts to keep what appears to be his (the property) were all in vain, indeed a sad sitaution when one considers the quest by the Darrells to own their share of 'the littlerock' and the offending individuals have all passed."Mr. Darrell took his case to Bermuda Police Service, alleging fraud by the Government.In his report to the Commissioner of Police, dated June 5 last year, Det. Insp. David Cart wrote: "Mr. Darrell is an old man who has been pursuing his case for years. He is sincere in his claim."Whilst I cannot find a criminal offence worthy of investigation, there does appear to be some merit in his claim from a civil point of view. It certainly appears that the Riviera Estate Road was built over his property and the Government cannot or will not produce documents substantiating their ownership of the land they claim."Mr. Darrell is virtually penniless, having spent everything he owned to prove his point. He cannot afford to take out further court actions, which could drag on for years."The only solution I can see is for the Government Planning Department to undertake a full review of his claim, and the plans which he disputes, to determine once and for all whether he was disadvantaged by incorrect judgments in the courts and if he should be compensated in some way by the Government."