May 5, 2010, 1:50 PM
Jainaba Jarju, who was convicted for house-breaking, was also ordered to pay a compensation of D600, in default to serve another three months in prison with hard labour.
Both sentences are to run concurrently.
However, she was acquitted and discharged on a charge of stealing from a dwelling house.
Delivering the judgment, the trial magistrate said the accused was arraigned and charged with two counts of house-breaking and stealing, to which she pleaded not guilty.
To discharge the burden of proof required in the case, the prosecution called four witnesses and tendered three exhibits.
After closing the prosecution case, the accused person opened her defence and called one witness, the magistrate went on.
“I have carefully listened to the proceedings and read the testimonies adduced in this trial, where the prosecution alleged in count one that the accused wilfully and unlawfully damaged the house door, valued at D950, the property of Lamin Sanneh and in count two, she entered in the said house of Lamin Sanneh and stole therein D6, 100 from his cupboard.”
It is a cardinal principle in criminal cases that the legal and evidential burden of proving every element of the offence beyond reasonable doubt lies on the prosecution, the magistrate continued.
Although, he went on, the prosecution could do so by either direct or circumstantial evidence, the law requires that in either case the prosecution bears the legal burden of proving all the elements of the offence necessary to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
From the foregoing, he continued, it was clear that the prosecution must succeed on the strength of its own evidence, and not allowed to rely on the weakness of the defence or lies told by the accused as the basis for a conviction.
“I will now turn to the offences under charge and set out the position of the law on the constitutive elements of the two offences.”
The law on wilful damage to property requires the prosecution to prove whether the accused wilfully damaged the house door of Lamin Sanneh, and whether damaging the house door was unlawful.
The law on stealing from a dwelling house requires that the prosecution must prove that the accused stole D6, 100 in the dwelling house of Lamin Sanneh; the accused uses or threatens to use violence agaisnt any person in the dwelling house.
With regards to the first element, as to whether the accused person wilfully damaged the house door of Lamin Sanneh, this was a fact.
According to the accused person’s evidence-in-chief, she admitted to damaging the door because she was in malice with PW1, Mbasi Jarju, which was closed and he held this piece of evidence as a fact, the magistrate added.
“It is the law that facts admitted need no further proof,” he further stated.
“Consequently, I hold the fact that the first element is established by the prosecution with the certainty required by law.”
However, he added, there was no evidence before the court as to the true value of the door, no evidence was led in this direction by the prosecution.
With regards to the second element whether the accused person unlawfully damaged the house door of Lamin Sanneh.
The accused admitted that she owns the frame of her door, and Lamin Sanneh owns the glasses on the said door; therefore, the ownership of the door was a joint enterprise and Lamin Sanneh did not give the accused any authority to remove the glasses on the door, and the attitude of the accused amounts to disrespect to joint ownership.
“I am of the considered view that the accused damaged the house door unlawfully. I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved the elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt.”
With regards to the first and second elements, this was whether the accused stole D6, 100 in the dwelling house of Lamin Sanneh.
There was no evidence led from the prosecution witnesses that they saw the accused appropriating the D6, 100 from the cupboard of Lamin Sanneh, and there is no evidence before the court showing that the accused used or threatened to use violence against any person in the dwelling house of Lamin Sanneh, he said.
The prosecution has failed woefully to establish the ingredients of the offence of stealing from a dwelling house beyond reasonable doubt, the magistrate added.