Mere moments after Tommy Lee Sparta was released from custody yesterday his lawyer, Ernest “Ernie” Smith reissued his threat to sue the state for the treatment and incarceration of the dancehall artiste.
Smith said he believes Sparta, whose real name is Leroy Russell had been a victim and that his livelihood had been stripped away from him with no justifiable cause.
“He’s been the victim of unlawful restraint of trade. That is the category under which the action will arise. In other words, he was not allowed to ply his trade without justification,” Smith told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
He continued: “I’m going to bring action against the State for his loss of income for the period of false imprisonment, and we’re also looking at a calculation for the number of times that he was prevented from performing in Montego Bay and other areas in the west, and that calculation looks like it’s running into about a hundred million dollars.”
Sparta was in police custody since July 7 at the Freeport Police Station in Montego Bay, where police grilled him on several occasions about his alleged connection to gang warfare plaguing the Flankers community.
Smith revealed to the Observer via email yesterday that a tribunal ruled that his client’s detention “should be revoked” and that he should be immediately released.
Smith added that the Blessings singer gave sworn testimony to the tribunal last Thursday, which brought him to tears.
“One of the time he was testifying, he burst out into tears saying: ‘What have I done? Why am I being used as a scapegoat?” Smith recalled.
He also spoke with the Jamaica Star about what his client endured while in custody.
“During one of the question-and-answer sessions, they brought up the fact that his little daughter had been shot and asked if he wasn’t going to seek vengeance. Tommy Lee told them that he has asked the Lord to protect his child, and that vengeance belongs to God. I was so proud of him,” Smith told THE STAR.
He also told the Star that based on the tribunal’s decision to release Sparta, there was no evidence that he should have been incarcerated in the first place.
“In 2014, the police from St James carried out a raid on his house in Kingston and accused him of lottery scamming. He went to court and was acquitted on a no-case submission, which only highlighted the weakness of the prosecution’s case.”
He continued: “He lost million of dollars from shows in parishes such as St James, Hanover and Westmoreland because the promoters were threatened that they would not receive permits to host the events unless they removed his name off the poster. It even stretched overseas to the extent that Tommy Lee has been named persona non grata by the US Embassy because of the file that the police has created on him.”