Jan 7, 2011, 2:14 PM
Magistrate E Jaiteh of the Brikama Magistrates’ Court recently convicted and sentenced one Karanta Darboe to pay a fine of D5,000 in default to serve 3 years in prison with hard labour, after being found guilty of being in possession of forged banknotes.
He was also ordered to pay to Jah Oil in Brikama Newtown the sum of D10,400 for fraudulently changing forged banknotes to the said complainant, in default to serve an additional 5 years imprisonment with hard labour.
All the sentences would run concurrently.
The court also ordered the 13 forged banknotes of CFA10,000 each to be destroyed by the state.
The presiding magistrate told the court before passing sentence that he found it expedient to state that the modern trend in the administration of criminal justice requires the court to give the offender the punishment, which is proportionate to the offence taking into consideration the seriousness of the offence, protection of the public and mitigating circumstances.
“I have noted the seriousness of the offence committed and the particular circumstances of this case. There is no doubt that the government and the people of The Gambia are the direct victims of forged banknotes,” said the magistrate.
Purchasing forged banknotes is a serious mischief that has successfully broken and destabilized very strong economies and financial markets in West Africa, he stated.
The possession of forged banknotes is a cankerworm that has eaten very deep in the fabric of daily life of The Gambia and impinged on the money markets, Magistrate Jaiteh added.
The printing and injecting of forged banknotes has the potential to weaken the economic base of the state, and must be discouraged and there is an urgent need for deterrence, he went on.
“I send to the entire public, whether businessmen, private entrepreneurs, joint ventures, companies, and individuals that banknotes are legal tender and a medium of exchange, and thus instrumental in facilitating business transactions in and out of The Gambia,” he said.
The convict, Karanta Darboe, was callous and reckless, added the magistrate, and he was persuaded to impose the severest punishment, but he would not do so because the convict had entered into an early guilty plea, and was a first time offender, he stated.
“I find the convict being repentant and has learnt his lesson in this incident. I see all these as compelling extenuating factors, which I will hold as mitigating circumstances in favour of the convict,” he added.
It was because of these reasons that he would not impose the statutory maximum sentence, and was minded to temper justice with mercy.
However, he added, the convict should be taught a lesson nonetheless, to deter others.
He consequently sentenced him accordingly.