Basse High Court presided over by
Justice Simeon A. Abi recently convicted and sentenced one Sanna Camara to a jail-term of 10 years
and 3 years respectively after he was found guilty of the offences of rape and
attempted rape contrary to the laws of The Gambia.
Delivering the judgment, the trial Judge disclosed that the accused was charged with one count of rape contrary to Section 122, and one count of attempted rape contrary to Section 123 both of the Criminal Code.
He said the particulars of offence in count 1 stated that the accused, on October 2014 in Basse had unlawful carnal knowledge of a 12-year-old girl.
The particulars of offence in count 2 stated that the accused on October 2014 in Basse attempted to have unlawful carnal knowledge of the victim.
He averred that the prosecution called five witnesses to prove their case and tendered three exhibits whilst the accused alone testified in his defence.
Justice Abi stated that the prosecution was put under the burden of adducing evidence to support the allegations and the evidence of the victim.
He said there was no other corroborative evidence of an eye witness apart from the evidence of the victim and that of PW2 who were both children of 12 and 10 years respectively as at the time they testified.
He pointed out that the evidence of PW 5 bears striking similarity to the evidence of PW1 and PW2 in material particulars, adding that both PW1 and PW2 stated that PW1 (the victim) was taken to the back of the tractor while PW2 was on the tractor.
He further pointed out that both stated that someone came with a flash light which was flashed at the accused and PW1 where they were at the back of the tractor.
He disclosed that both stated that the man who apprehended the accused shouted “thief thief” and the accused attempted to run away but was caught, adding that PW1 testified that the accused had his underwear in his pocket and attempted to hide the pant but the police collected the underwear from him.
This was similar to the testimony of PW5 that the accused had his brief in his pocket.
Justice Abi pointed out that apart from the corroborative evidence of PW 5, the cautionary statement of the accused Exhibit P1 spoke volumes as its gave a version of the story that closely resembles the evidence of PW1 and PW2 which the court viewed and considered a confession by the accused of what transpired on both the 23 and 25 October 2014.
He stated that “A confession is a voluntary admission made at any time by a person charged with an offence, stating or suggesting the inference that he or she committed that offence”.
Justice Abi explained that the statement (Exhibit P1) showed that it substantially corroborated the evidence of PW1 and PW2 in very material particulars as it clearly confirmed the evidence of the sexual intercourse between PW1 and the accused on 23 October 2014.
He further explained that Exhibit P1 also corroborated the evidence of PW1 and PW2 on the second occasion when PW5 flashed a torchlight on the accused and PW1; that the accused tried to escape but was arrested; and that the accused had his brief in his pocket when he was arrested.
Justice Abi pointed out that although PW1 stated in her evidence and in cross-examination that she shouted when the accused had sexual intercourse with her the first time on 23 October 2014, the accused person’s version of the story was that PW1 did not cry which made him to wonder whether she was not a virgin.
The trial Judge said that he was of the firm view, and so found and held, that the accused had unlawful carnal knowledge of PW1 on 23 October 2014.
He said in proving if there was penetration, no matter how slight in the rape charge, the accused stated in Exhibit P1 that he had sex with PW1, penetrated her fully and was surprised she did not cry, causing him to wonder whether the PW1 was not a virgin.
Furthermore, the trial judge stated that the medical form Exhibit P3 stated in the column 6 “Nature of Injuries…” that: “Slight cut at the prenium, Hymen ruptured”. This to him nailed the coffin on the issue of penetration of PW1 by the accused.
Justice Abi therefore found and held that the prosecution had successfully proved penetration and unlawful carnal knowledge of PW1 by the accused.
On the attempted rape count, the trial judge said the evidence of PW1, PW2 and PW5 points clearly to the fact that on 25 October 2015, the accused did not succeed in having sexual intercourse with PW1 due to the interruption caused by the arrival of PW5 which was also confessed to by the accused in Exhibit P1.
He disclosed that the prosecution led sufficient corroborative evidence to bolster both the evidence of the rape and the attempt and therefore found and held that the prosecution proved count 2 on attempted rape beyond reasonable doubts and accordingly found the accused guilty as charged on both counts.
In passing sentence, Justice Simeon A. Abi remarked that though the punishment for rape is life imprisonment while the punishment for attempted rape is 7 years, having listened to the allocutus on behalf of the accused person he would temper justice with mercy and hope that the accused would make the most use of this leniency to turn a new leaf after serving his term.
He stated that by the powers conferred on him by Section 29(2) of the Criminal Code he would sentence the accused person on Count 1 (rape) to a jail-term of 10 years and on count 2, attempted rape to a term of 3 years with hard labour.
The trial Judge ordered that both sentences run concurrently with effect from the 25 October 2014 when the accused was first arrested.