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Appeal Court sentences Ghanaian to death for killing girlfriend

Jun 8, 2015, 10:30 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The Gambia Court of Appeal recently sentenced a Ghanaian national, Terrick Bright, to death. He was accused of murdering his girlfriend, one Amie Bah.

Terrick Bright was earlier sentenced to ten years imprisonment by the lower court for manslaughter.

The state, being dissatisfied, appealed against the conviction of the lower court at the Court of Appeal.

Delivering the Judgment, Justice Awa Bah said the appellant, as prosecutor in the lower court, filed a two-count charge against the respondent and the accused person and one Mrs Lady Chris Nobi differently.

The respondent was charged under count one for murder, which he and his co-accused pleaded not guilty to, and the prosecution proceeded to prove its case.

In proving their case, the prosecution called eight witnesses, which included six police officers, and tendered seventeen exhibits, while the accused persons gave lone evidence in their defence and tendered three exhibits, she said.

At the end of the trial the learned trial judge found that the respondent “unintentionally killed” Miss Amie Bah, his girlfriend, and found him guilty of manslaughter and not murder as charged, and sentenced him to ten years in prison, Justice Bah said.

“Dissatisfied with that part of the judgment, the appellant appealed to the court, by way of an amended notice of appeal dated 2 February 2015,” she said.

Based on the following grounds, the learned trial judge erred in law and fact when he stated that the offence of murder was not proved by the prosecution; the judge misdirected himself when he said that the respondent did not intend to cause the death of the deceased; and the judge misdirected himself when he held that the wrapping of the nose and mouth of the deceased was in furtherance of the earlier strike on the deceased.

She said for the prosecution to secure a conviction of an accused person charged with murder, the prosecution must not only prove beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent caused the death of the deceased, but that he did so with the requisite intent.

She said the learned trial judge in resolving the issue of intent rightly turned to the confessional statement of the respondent (which he sought to retract in his evidence on oath to no avail) to ascertain the guilty mind of the respondent.

It was clear that the respondent had hit the deceased on the right side of the neck with his bangle wrist, and the force of the assault threw the deceased to the floor and that there was no doubt that the two love birds were in a quarrel, and the strike was made in anger, the judge said.

She said the issue of any intent to cause death by that act was, therefore, of no relevance and what was relevant was the fact of the wrapping of the mouth and nose of the deceased with a cello tape resulting in her death.

According to the judge, any reasonable man would know that blocking the air passage of a person would certainly lead to suffocation, to the natural and probable consequence of death since breathing is the lifeline of man, and once it is blocked, death would result.

She said the appeal succeeded, and she found the accused guilty of the offence of murder.

The conviction and sentence of the respondent for the offence of manslaughter was hereby set aside as prayed, the judge added.

“I return the verdict of ‘guilt’ for the offence of murder as charged,” she said.

The punishment for murder, as prescribed by section 188 of CPC Supra, is mandatory; it is death and the court has no discretion in the matter, she continued.

“The respondent is, therefore, liable to be sentenced accordingly. As a result, I hereby sentence the respondent, Terrick Bright, to death,” she declared.