Damodar’s case ‘stayed’
24 May, 2023, 2:00 pm
The High Court in Suva has ruled that a criminal charge of careless driving against Riddhi Damodar be stayed in the Magistrate’s Court.
Justice Daniel Goundar made the ruling after Ms Damodar asked the High Court to permanently stay the charge and that she be acquitted.
Ms Damodar claimed in court there was a failure of the State to provide her with the CCTV footage for the day in question and destruction of the said footage by the State caused grave prejudice to her.
“The State concedes that CCTV footage evidence is no longer available. Counsel for the State submits that there are sufficient safeguards to ensure the trial is fair despite the missing evidence,” said Justice Goundar.
“It is clear that the CCTV footage evidence was relevant evidence.
“The investigating officer saw it fit to obtain the evidence and showed it to the applicant during her caution interview.
“But the investigating officer has not offered any reasonable explanation as to why he did not see fit to secure the CCTV footage evidence for the trial.
“Whether the evidence was incriminatory or exculpatory of the accused is not an issue.
“Once the investigating officer came to be in possession of the evidence, it was his duty to secure the evidence for the trial.
“I am satisfied that it is more likely than not that the CCTV evidence if led in the trial could have potentially exonerated the applicant (Ms Damodar) from criminal responsibility for careless driving.
“Without the CCTV footage, she will be compelled to give evidence to explain her account of the collision and will be prejudiced in objectively presenting her defence that she was not at fault.”