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Apr 5, 2016

Dark Night Owner Bradley Paumen Ordered to Pay Compensation

But back to Paumen…He’s the millionaire owner of Dark Night Cave Tours, and as we said, the man who was arrested and charged for organizing and paying for a hit on Michael Modiri early this year. It got somewhat complicated, but Police investigators believed that the motive was land. Modiri owns the land in Frank’s Eddy Village which Paumen must use to access his Dark Night caves. In 2013, Modiri demanded that Paumen pay for the use of the land access. Paumen countered by somehow getting the Ministry of Natural Resources to acquire the land for some unspecified public purpose. Paumen then built a road on Modiri’s land, now acquired, and life at Dark Night tours went on in highly lucrative fashion. Modiri sued Paumen and G.O.B., a prime factor in what Police say was a poorly orchestrated, but very serious plan by Paumen to have his nemesis killed. But murder for hire aside, today the decision on the controversial land-locked land was handed down in the Courtroom of Justice Shona Griffith. Mike Rudon was there and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This is the Dark Night cave tubing experience – highly prized by tourists and a lucrative investment by owner Bradley Paumen. But Paumen went too far to secure his investment. According to the Supreme Court, Paumen knowingly trespassed on land owned by his neighbor Michael Modiri in order to build a road so visitors could access the caves. But it wasn’t a total victory for claimant Modiri, whose property and Paumen’s are land-locked. To access his land, Modiri must also use a small portion of Paumen’s property, and sought the Court’s permission to do so. That application was denied this morning.

 

Nazira Myles

Nazira Myles, Attorney for Michael Modiri

“Mr. Modiri can’t access his property and that was one of the big issues, so we had asked the Court to grant an easement of necessity meaning that crossing over the fifth defendants – which is Sibun Grain and Cattle Limited – one of the companies owned by Mr. Paumen is the only way he can access his property. We felt that we had satisfied the court with Mr. Gillett’s evidence that that was the only way he can access his property. Unfortunately the Court felt that there was not enough before the Court to satisfy the necessity of going through that property. So that’s the part that was dismissed. However the Court upheld our claim where it deals with the trespass of Mr. Paumen and his company dark Night and Daylight cave adventure…where on the stand during cross-examination he himself admitted of trespassing on Mr. Modiri’s property since 2013 and building this company based on the trespass.”

For Modiri, that is vindication of a position he has held since 2013. Still, there is some disappointment that there is still not a total resolution to the problem. The Judge was unable to grant those definitive declarations because that is the purview of the government, and not the Court.

 

Michael Modiri

Michael Modiri, Awarded Compensation

“A little maybe but we pretty much got what we wanted…what is under her jurisdiction. She can say that they trespassed and they have to be stopped, but she doesn’t have the power to stop them. But we’ve asked the Police, and maybe now that the judgment is out we can get some cooperation to stop them because even though the judgment is and the Judge has ordered them to stop for over a year, they’re every day in my property.”

 

For Paumen’s use of Modiri’s land to access the caves, the Court granted compensation to the landowner of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. There was also the very rare awarding of exemplary damages – punishing the defendant Paumen for his actions. Even after an injunction was granted during the trail, Paumen refused to halt operations at the Dark Night caves. The Judge says he was insulting and disrespectful, for which he must pay another one hundred and fifty thousand.

 

Michael Modiri

“It’s not even close. It’s not even close. The man agreed to pay a certain amount himself before any dispute came to Court, and now the Judge aid that’s too much. He agreed to pay so much, and now we’re going to award one fifth of it, or one fourth of it…that was extremely low.”

 

Nazira Myles

“I must say that I am disappointed in the quantum of damages that were granted given the amount of profit he himself admits he makes from this company from trespassing on Mr. Modiri’s land, so that’s a little bit of a disappointment as to the quantum that was granted, but we are satisfied that there is a declaration of the trespass and that he must stop doing so.”

 

But will he stop? Or can there still be some compromise on the use of land which has allegedly almost led to bloodshed.

 

Michael Modiri

“As far as stopping his operation we never had the intention to do so. All he has to do is pay rent, and he has been willing to go to criminal acts to not pay rent, so now hopefully that will stop.”

 

Nazira Myles

“Now that we have a judgment we can enforce it. I have to take instructions from Mr. Modiri but he can either be stopped – because you heard the Judge say that he has been trespassing so unless he receives permission from Mr. Modiri he can no longer be using his property. Once given instruction he has an option to lease the road which he illegally built to continue his tours, one, or two he must shut down because it’s not his property but at this time I am not sure what Mr. Modiri will do going forward.”

 

In the immediate future, Modiri says all he plans is for the Police to respect the ruling of the Court and halt Paumen’s illegal trespass, at least until something can be worked out. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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1 Response for “Dark Night Owner Bradley Paumen Ordered to Pay Compensation”

  1. Timber says:

    And I would appeal that judgement. This is what I’m saying about the legal system in Belize, it’s corrupt, inept and it looks like they’re giving out law degrees left and right at UWI. I HAVE STATED A MILLION TIMES, MOST OF THE MAJORITY OF THEM COME HOME WITH A LEGAL CERTIFICATE AND NOT A LAW DEGREE. I was sent a link of a debate between Stann Creek Ecumenical and Saint Johns Junior College, Chester, your Assistans Superintendent of Belize, can’t even speak eloquently nor does he even know proper grammar. Whew! There should have been a judgment for him to return the property that he illegally acquired to Modori; hmmm, let me guess, Gaspar Vega and Lands Commissioner , Vallejos, names would have come up and UDP doesn’t want another mess aired. This magistrate erred and it seems as if they’re all afraid to do their jobs. I digress.

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