Court acquits rape suspect

Monday, December 11, 2017

Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court in Banjul recently acquitted and discharged one Pa Omar Keita after the prosecution failed to prove the offences of rape and abduction against him.

Delivering the judgment, the trial judge disclosed that the accused person, Pa Omar Keita, was charged with two counts of criminal offences.

The Judge further disclosed that the particulars of offence alleged on count one that the accused on 21 March 2016 at Brikama Madina Pipeline had carnal knowledge of an eight-year-old girl.

The trial judge also disclosed that the accused was alleged on count two to have on 21 March 2016 at Brikama Madina Pipeline unlawfully detained the eight-year-old girl against her will.

He said the accused person was arraigned before the court on 25 October 2016 and pleaded not guilty to the offences alleged, adding that the prosecution called five witnesses and tendered three exhibits respectively.

He remarked that for the prosecution to succeed, the prosecution must lead copious, cogent, compelling and unequivocal evidence to prove that the accused was the man who committed these offences.

He said the prosecution therefore has the up shifting burden of proving all the ingredients of the offence with which the accused had been charged.

He disclosed that the bedsheet, and mattress of the accused person was not provided as to whether there was the presence of any semen or blood stains.

He further disclosed that the prosecution failed to conduct any forensic examination of these items to confirm the presence of any semen traceable to the accused and, or the blood stains traceable to the victim.

The trial judge said that the testimony of PW4 whose medical examinations on the victim did not reveal any bleeding or presence of spermatozoa.

The judge revealed that he has a shadow of doubt in his mind whether it was the accused person who raped the victim, adding that where there are doubts in the mind of the court as to whether or not it was the accused that committed the offence; such doubts should be resolved in favour of the accused.

He disclosed that the prosecution failed to prove the charge of rape beyond reasonable doubt against the accused, adding that it was a settled law that where the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt, the accused was entitled to an acquittal, citing the case of Woolmington versus DPP.

With regard to count two, the trial judge revealed that he perused the entire evidence on record and there was no eyewitness evidence to support this ingredient and none of the prosecution’s witnesses gave evidence of seeing the victim being detained by the accused person.

The trial Judge disclosed that the accused denied the allegation and this piece of evidence was supported by the evidence of DW2 and DW3 who live in the same compound with DW1, that compound being the alleged place of the rape.

The trial Judge said the prosecution did not put any evidence to rebut this denial and it thus remains unchallenged and uncontroverted, adding that it was the law that unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence must not be regarded as establishing the facts alleged.

He pointed out that the prosecution failed to establish this element of the offence with the certainty required by law and that it was trite law that once the prosecution fails to establish the actus reus of an offence such as the instant case, and where there are doubts in the mind of the court as to whether or not it was the accused person that committed the offence, such doubts should be resolved in favour of the accused.

 The trial judge disclosed that he was compelled to acquit and discharge the accused person on counts one and two and the accused, Pa Omar Keita, was accordingly acquitted and discharged on counts one and two respectively.

Author: Bruce Asemota