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Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 27 September 2006
State must pay rapist for 'cat-o'-nine' beating
By Darren Bahaw
THE STATE will now have to compensate a convicted rapist who was flogged with the dreaded cat-o'-nine-tails instead of the birch.
The prisoner, Timothy Wyse, 53, will also receive regular medical and psychological treatment for the injuries he suffered as a result of the whipping.
In March 2005, attorneys Dana Seetahal, SC, and Michelle Solomon filed a lawsuit claiming that prison authorities unlawfully imposed 15 strokes with the cat-o'-nine-tails against their client, a punishment which breached Wyse's constitutional right to due process.
The matter concluded yesterday before Justice Lennox Deyalsingh, in the Port of Spain First Civil Court at the Hall of Justice, because of the failure of the State to file any defence to the lawsuit despite several adjournments.
Senior State attorney Neil Byam and Marissa Ramdass represented the Attorney General. The State will also have to bear the legal costs incurred by the prisoner in bringing the legal action.
A Master of the High Court will have to determine how much money the prisoner should receive for his injuries.
The use of the cat-o'-nine tails has been virtually outlawed in several jurisdictions because it falls within the category of cruel and unusual punishment. The cat-o'-nine-tails is a wooden handle whip consisting of nine, three feet long, quarter-inch marline straps with sharp metallic ends.
Wyse, who is currently serving a 20-year jail term for rape, serious indecency and robbery, claims the prison authorities ignored him when he told them that the Appeal Court had varied his sentence, removing from the original sentence 15 strokes with the cat-o'-nine-tails and replacing it with 15 strokes with the birch.
On November 3, 2001, Wyse was taken to Carrera Prison, where he was informed he was going to be flogged in compliance to the order of the High Court. He claimed he protested and informed a senior prison officer about the Appeal Court variation and asked for the opportunity to produce the Appeal Court judgment, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Instead, Wyse claims he was strapped to a device called the "Merry Sandy", which is used to restrain prisoners when they are being flogged. He said his head was fitted into a brace, his arms were outstretched on either side and his legs were buckled in place on the device.
The prisoner claims that he heard prison officers betting each other money on whether or not he would scream before he received the first set of lashes across his back.
"These lashes hit me along my back; my spinal cord; my shoulders; the corner of my chest and on my arms," he stated in an affidavit.
He said after he was flogged, he was again beaten with a wet shirt by prison officers.
Wyse claims he broke out into a cold sweat, gasped for breath and excreted on himself as the whippings progressed. In all, he said, he received 135 welts across his body.
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