Southampton man had credible case land was taken from him
A family has alleged that Government maladministration cost them land in Southampton.
The Darrell family told the Commission of Inquiry into Historic Land Loss yesterday that records show they owned a section of land bisected by Riviera Estates Road since the 1800s.
The Commission was presented with multiple documents by Halle Teart, on behalf of the Darrell family, including an October 2002 story published in the Mid-Ocean News about John Nathaniel Darrell, who said a swath of the family land was stolen in 1962.
Mr Darrell, who died in 2014, said in the story he had fought the Government for years to address the issue to no avail.
He said: “Nobody wants to deal with this, but the issue of land ownership is very important."
Mr Darrell claimed there had been a cover-up over land he alleged had been stolen from his grandfather, Emelius Darrell.
He said a 1932 plan listed the Southampton property as being owned by “Benjamin Darrell”, Horace Cooper and the Government, but records indicate that “Benjamin Darrell” did not exist.
A 1979 survey by Robert H Clarke confirmed that all the land was in fact owned by John Darrell and that Riviera Estate Road cut though a portion of his property.
The 2002 article said Anthony Blackman, a lawyer with the Department of Prosecutions, had found that his family had been “unfairly dispossessed of his land”.
But he said the legal battle to recover the property had drained him of his resources without any compensation.
Mr Darrell told the Mid-Ocean News: "I've been ready to go ahead with further action for a year now.
"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.“
Mr Blackman said in an August 2001 report: "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 branded the case a blatant breach of the rules of natural justice.
Mr Blackman noted a number of legal battles over the property
But he found no evidence of fraudulent conduct and concluded that Mr Darrell's case was a civil matter.
Mr Darrell also took his complaint to the Bermuda Police Service, only to be told it did not appear that there was criminal activity involved.
Detective Inspector David Cart wrote in a report to the Commissioner of Police in June 2001: "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.“
Mr Cart added that the only solution he could see was for the Department of Planning to review the claim and the disputed plans to determine the truth behind the claims and whether he should be compensated.
Following a review of the evidence, then-Director of Public Prosecutions Khamisi Tokunbo concluded that there was no criminal case to answer.
But in a 2001 letter to the Commissioner of Police, Mr Tokunbo added: “Because of the significant conclusion that the complainant has been unfairly dispossessed of land, I am of the view that Government ought to seriously look at this case.
“For the first time it has been seriously investigated and examined from a criminal law angle. I think it deserves the same attention from a civil and planning law angle. Mr Darrell deserves as much.”
Mr Darrell also reached out to senators as part of his fight to recover his land alleging inaction by the Governor and the Government.
He said in his letters: “I am a retired old man, penniless and in poor health, suffering from cancer which is currently in remission and therefore seek your assistance in moving Parliament to act in an effort to redress my grievance by way of compensation for the maladministration and injustice I have suffered at the hand of various Government officials, departments and the courts for most of my adult life.”
The Darrell family will continue giving evidence to the Commission this afternoon.