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October 17, 2014
Lawyer for owners of Mespo property says the time for playing games is over

The lawyer for the new owners of a property at Mesopotamia, presently occupied by Thomas Augustus “Chippy” Browne, has written to Browne’s priest, asking him to persuade the elderly man to vacate the property he had owned since 1952.

On October 7, 2014, Bertram E. Commissiong Q.C., counsel for Stephen M. DaSilva {{more}}and Clinton D. Samuel, wrote Roman Catholic priest Father Richard Paynter, asking that he use his “good offices as priest” and persuade 86-year-old Browne to leave the property.

“It is his last chance, for this is a battle he cannot win, ultimately he must go, even if he has to be physically lifted by medical persons,” the letter from Commissiong said.

Commissiong’s plea to Paynter appears to be a last ditch effort on his part to get Browne to vacate his clients’ premises.

According to Deed of Conveyance 1969/2014, DaSilva and Samuel, two Vincentians residing in the United States, purchased the property at Mesopotamia from the St Vincent Building and Loan Association for $306,560.00, in July, 2014.

On April 30, 1991, Chippy had borrowed $300,000 from the Association. He offered as security for the loan, the property in contention at Mesopotamia and 10 acres of land.

He defaulted on the loan, causing the property to be put up for sale.

However, Chippy’s lawyer, R. Theodore L. V. Browne, in a letter to Commissiong dated September 4, 2014, questioned why “the other more valuable part of the security, amounting to over 10 acres of land,” was not targeted.

“Is it too much to request a cancellation of the deed to your clients on condition that they be refunded any sum paid to the St Vincent Building and Loan Association and to do the noble thing of giving our client an opportunity to liquidate his debt and to allow him the dignity of bequeathing his dwelling house and factory to his beneficiaries. This will fulfill a major objective of his life and ennoble the sacredness of this humanity,” attorney Browne wrote.

He also questioned why did Commissiong not first ensure that Browne was out of the property before a conveyance was prepared.

“Didn’t you complicate the issue by rushing to convey the property without first obtaining an order for vacant possession?… Doesn’t the legal learning reveal that it is the seller’s duty to obtain vacant possession? – That is to say, the St Vincent Building and Loan Association and not you? “

The said deed of Conveyance states that the purchasers arranged with the Building and Loan Association that “they will accept an agreed sum of money from the Association as part of the costs of getting vacant possession of the dwelling house on the said parcel of land.”

“We urge you to call to remembrance the lavish generosity of our client to all irrespective of political connections. He has been a victim of his own generosity – some have abused it and others are determined, it seems, to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs or in broad daylight to bite off the hand that once fed them…. Now that he is lying prostrate on his back and defenceless with multiple ailments and subjected to 24 hours a day nursing care and totally dependent on the charity and voluntary generosity of relatives and friends, we seek your help to rescue the perishing and care for the dying of a noble soul,” Browne pleaded with Commissiong.

Before writing to Father Paynter on October 7, Commissiong had for months, been asking Chippy to leave the premises.

In a letter dated July 30, 2014, he gave Chippy 14 days notice to completely vacate the property.

“We have been instructed that hitherto several efforts were made to have you move out without the involvement of anyone else, but you have willfully ignored those opportunities. Having invested in the property our clients cannot afford to have it occupied by you thereby preventing them from putting it to the use for which it has been purchased. So if you have not moved out by midnight on the thirteenth of next month (August) our clients will on the morning of Thursday the fourteenth of August twenty fourteen, move unto the property and begin to do the necessary alterations and repairs they intend to make,” Commissiong wrote.

“Mr Da Silva and Mr Samuel wish to cause you as little discomfort or embarrassment as the circumstances will allow. They therefore warn you that they are going to remove parts of the roof and break some walls. They will not act in wanton disregard for your personal safety and will not be responsible for damage to any of your belongings you have not removed. We therefore implore you to give up possession as demanded.”

Chippy’s lawyer, R Theodore L. V. Browne responded on August 13, 2014, warning Commissiong not to trespass on his client’s premises.

“Be warned – do not fall into the error of trespassing or allowing or advising anyone to trespass on our client’s premises. You, or they, would be the real trespassers and we would respond vigourously to any action along these lines,” Browne wrote.

“I vow to resolutely defend Mr. Thomas Browne’s interest in his home. I suggest that you advise your clients to seek a refund of whatever money they have paid in … attempt to secure his property. They will regret the serious legal consequences. The full weight of the law will fall on their backs.”

On August 26, 2014, Commissiong again wrote Chippy. He referred to a telephone conversation he said Chippy made to him on August 15, 2014, in which Chippy asked to be given more time to leave the house.

“I truly believed that you intended to move on the 25th as you said you would and communicated the new concession we had made to our clients…. You could imagine my utter disappointment and embarrassment when I learned on the 25th that you had not even packed a teaspoon preparatory to moving and that it seemed you had no intention to do so!”

Commissiong wrote that he visited Chippy’s home at Mesopostamia that day (August 26) to “see the situation for [himself] and to talk the matter over with [Chippy] face to face.”

He said during a “very cordial” 55-minute discussion with Chippy, he agreed to give the retired businessman three more weeks to vacate.

Commissiong said he agreed on the condition that he would come on Saturday August 30 and Saturday September 6, “to see how the moving was progressing and take possession on the 13th September…. If you had not completely packed by the 6thSeptember (the second Saturday) it would be reasonable for us to conclude that you did not intend to move and we would commence work on the building….”

“I can see no reason other than your inexplainable sense of right why you should not vacate our client’s property by the 13thSeptember 2014. We were shown the vacant house two lots from the property that has been arranged for you to move to; you scoffed at the idea when we told you that you are supposed to move there…”

“We warn you in the strongest terms that no further indulgence will be given; after the 13th September 2014 we will take possession if you are not out by then. The time for playing games is over. If your lawyer is of the opinion that we need a court order to get you out, let him apply to the court for an order to prevent us…,” Commissiong wrote in the letter of August 26, 2014.

In our edition of October 10, 2014 SEARCHLIGHT reported that in the wee hours of the morning of October 8, the house at Mesopotamia was pelted by stones, resulting in breakage of several window panes.

Earlier that week, large boulders had been dumped in the driveway of the property. The water and telephone lines to the house had also been cut that week.

Up to press time, Browne was still occupying the house.