FORMER teaching assistant Sanja Ducally, who was last November freed of murder in the killing of 18-year-old Joeith Lynch and her mother Charmaine Rattray in Lauriston, St Catherine, is suing the State for millions of dollars, alleging that the eight years he spent behind bars has caused him untold suffering and joblessness.
Rattray and her daughter were, on the night of July 19, 2011, hacked to death, shot, then beheaded by a group of about eight men, five of whom were later arrested and charged in relation to the brutal murders. Three of the men — Adrian Campbell, Roshane Goldson, and Fabian Smith — pleaded guilty to non-capital murder and were sentenced to life in prison. Ducally and another accused, Kemar Riley, had pleaded not guilty to murder and were standing trial.
Ducally walked following a no-case submission on his behalf by his attorney Anthony Williams, who contended that the prosecution had failed to produce evidence to show “that there was a plan, aiding and abetting and participation” on the part of Ducally in relation to the crime.
Ducally, in a caution statement played into the records of the court, had said he was returning “from a function” in the dead of night, heard Lynch screaming for help and went to investigate. In the account, he said upon going into the house and entering Lynch’s room he saw two men, one of whom [Roshane Goldson] “was busy chopping Cristal (pet name for Lynch)”.
“I said, ‘what going on?’ He couldn’t answer because he was busy chopping Cristal, so I was standing next to him and while he was chopping he swung the cutlass and it chop me on my hand. Same time I ran outside… and I jump over the back fence and run around the lane and up on Rio Cobre Drive,” Ducally stated. He said, while running away from the scene he heard five to six gunshots.
Supreme Court Judge Justice Vivene Harris, in handing down the judgment, said in examining the arguments there was “no evidence presented by the prosecution that Ducally knew a murder was taking place in that house prior, and that there is no evidence he was a part of the plan [to murder the women] before he went into the house”.
“It is my view, having considered the authorities in the area and the evidence of the prosecution, that there is absolutely no evidence that he planned with the individuals to commit the murders…” Justice Harris said at the time in instructing the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty on both counts of non-capital murder.
In the claim filed in the Supreme Court last Friday by Ducally’s lawyer — a copy of which was obtained by the Jamaica Observer — Ducally maintains that he has been “ostracised by the community after he returned from lock-up and has been unable to secure any employment since, by virtue of the adverse criminal stigma of being charged for the offence”. He also said he “suffered from periods of anxiety, depression, mental anguish and, also, from feelings of abandonment, loneliness and mental disorientation as a result of being incarcerated for over eight years”.
Furthermore, the former assistant teacher is said to have become physically ill on multiple occasions while incarcerated and experienced problems with his eyes, for which he received treatment on several occasions.
According to the document, Ducally “has been punished twice for his heroic attempt”. First, by being severely chopped on his arm and second, by the first and second defendants (a retired superintendent of police and the State) which led to his incarceration for over eight years.
Ducally’s lawyer is arguing further that the investigating officer, being a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, acted or purporting to act in execution of his duties, unlawfully, maliciously, without reasonable and/or probable cause, prosecuted the claimant by proffering charges against him, namely two counts of murder committed against Rattray and Lynch on or about the 20th July 2011 at 46 Berry Drive, Lauriston, in the parish of St Catherine.
According to the particulars of the claim, the “false imprisonment and malicious prosecution of the claimant by the defendants caused serious loss, humiliation, injury to his reputation and integrity and character, depression, nervousness, sleepless nights and, among other things, put him to considerable expense and embarrassment”.
Ducally is claiming compensation for special damages (out-of-pocket expenses) of just over $3.5 million, damages for false imprisonment, damages for malicious prosecution, damages for loss of earning, aggravated damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, exemplary damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution as well as vindicatory damages.
Ducally is said to have earned $17,000 per fortnight from his teaching assistant position.
If successful, Ducally could pocket well over $35 million, depending on the court’s decision.
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