Manslaughter suspect acquitted and discharged

Monday, November 27, 2017

Basse High Court presided over by Justice Simeon A. Abi on 23 November 2017, acquitted and discharged one Ebrima Gagigo after the prosecution failed to prove the manslaughter charge against him.

Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge disclosed that the accused person was charged with one count of Manslaughter contrary to Section 187 and punishable under Section 189 of the Criminal Code.

He said the particulars of offence alleged that the accused on 16 May 2016, at Jareng Village in the Central River Region, unlawfully caused the death of Alagie Cham.

He revealed that the prosecution called four witnesses and tendered three exhibits whilst the accused testified alone in his defence.

There was no controversy about the death of Alagie Cham as PW1, PW2, PW3, PW4 and the accused all testified to this fact and Exhibit P3, he said.

The Autopsy report from the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, was also conclusive proof that the deceased Alhagie Cham died of internal haemorrhage.

What was in issue as far as he could see was whether the act of the accused causing death was unlawful, he added.

According to the judge, PW1, who was the only person present at the time, did not say that the accused and the deceased fought.

She said the deceased told her that the accused threw him down but during her cross-examination she maintained that when she asked the deceased what happened he said the accused just picked him up and threw him down.  

Looking closely at the evidence, more particularly the narrative of the accused and PW1 whatever took place between the accused and the deceased was not a fight.

He pointed out that the accused did not commit any unlawful act which led to the death of the deceased and the only evidence stated was that he held the deceased so that the deceased would not beat Mariatou with the stick the deceased had picked up, and when he gripped the deceased they both fell down as a result of their drunken state.

The trial judge further pointed out that there was no evidence that the accused did more than gripping the deceased, adding that physically restraining someone from beating another in his view was not an act that carries any degree of danger to the person restrained.

He explained that the act of falling down was not shown to be a deliberate act engineered by the accused but an unintended result from the drunken state of both the accused and the deceased.

The Judge revealed that he did not find any evidence of the accused acting without due caution or circumspection in this case and from all the evidence, the drunken state of both the accused and the deceased was responsible for the sad incident.

Though the accused did not state what time he arrived at the residence of the deceased, he said he met them drinking and he joined them and they drank from that time till about 2pm when PW1 served lunch.

Then they continued drinking till 4pm when PW2 and PW4 left, and both were already drunk by then. Then the fall incident occurred and after pouring water on the deceased, both the accused and deceased went back under the tree and continued drinking till about 5pm when the deceased complained of a headache and the accused gave him D5 with which he bought Paracetamol tablet and took.

From this evidence, the accused and deceased spent at least four hours drinking and they were both drunk. From the evidence also, the deceased did not eat the lunch that was served by PW1.

“While I will not go into speculation about the state of health of the deceased at the time, Exhibit P3, the autopsy report shows that external examination revealed laceration and haemorrhages on left side of chest, probably as a result of blunt trauma. Since there is no evidence that the accused attacked the deceased with a blunt object, this to me is consistent with the deceased hitting that part of his chest on a hard surface as a result of the fall,” he stated.

It would therefore seem to him that the injury suffered by the deceased was completely unintended by the accused and was wholly accidental.

Accordingly, in line with the definitions and expositions of the law, “I cannot bring myself to attach any responsibility for the death of the deceased to the accused person in this case.”

Justice Simeon A. Abi therefore found the accused person not guilty of the charge of manslaughter and he was accordingly acquitted and discharged.

Author: Bruce Asemota in Basse