Jan 23, 2015, 10:55 AM
Delivering the ruling, the trial magistrate told the court that the accused, Ismaila Sanneh, was charged with two counts of motor traffic offences related to the Road and Highway Act and contrary to Motor Traffic Regulations.
The particulars of offence alleged in count one stated that on 12 August 2015, at Brikama GALP Petrol Station in Kombo Central District of the West Coast Region, between the hours of 16:00 and 17:00, he drove a motor vehicle with registration number BJL 8652-J and parked his motor vehicle in a dangerous position.
The accused was alleged in count two to have, on 12 August 2015 at Brikama GALP Petrol Station, between the hours of 4pm and 5pm,driven a motor vehicle with registration number BJL 8652-J, with both the rear side and off side front and rear lights not functioning.
The accused person was arraigned before the court on 10 September 2015, and he pleaded not guilty to the charge alleged.
To prove the charge, the prosecution called only one witness and no exhibit was tendered, the magistrate said, adding that the facts relied upon by the prosecution were sufficiently elicited from the testimony of the lone witness.
Upon the close of the prosecution’s case, the accused, through his counsel, raised a no-case submission and addressed the court orally.
The prosecution replied to the no-case submission, and there was no reply on points of law.
He said the defence counsel, in his oral address, submitted that the accused had no case to answer and made reference to section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The defence counsel submitted that the accused was standing trial on two counts of criminal offences contrary to sections 65(1) and 78 of the Motor Traffic Act.
Defence counsel further argued that as an element of an offence of leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position, the accused must have left the vehicle in a dangerous position or condition or circumstances and the accused’s vehicle must likely cause a danger to or an unnecessary obstruction or inconvenience to other persons using the road.
Defence counsel submitted that the legal and evidential burden rested on the prosecution and, in this case, the prosecution did not provide a compelling evidence to demonstrate the guilt of the accused person.
Defence counsel also submitted that the accused person should be acquitted and discharged.
Sub-Inspector Camara for the prosecution, in responding to the arguments on the no-case submission, submitted that the accused was standing trial on two counts of traffic offences.
Count one was leaving a motor vehicle in a dangerous position contrary to section 65(1) of the M.T.A and count two was the use of motor vehicle that does not conform to the requirements.
The prosecutor submitted that to prove their case, the prosecution called only one witness, who gave evidence in support of the charges against the accused person.
The prosecutor further submitted that before a magistrate could uphold a no-case submission, the defence must show that the prosecution had failed to prove the following: That the prosecution could not prove an element in the case; that the prosecution’s witness had been discredited under cross-examination.
The prosecutor also argued that none of the above had happened, and further submitted that what was expected of the prosecution at this stage was not to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, but to establish a prima facie case, which would allow the accused to enter his defence.
The prosecutor further submitted that the prosecution was able to establish a prima facie case against the accused person, and that the court should ignore or disregard the defence counsel’s submission and order the accused to enter his defence, so that his side of the story could be heard in the interest of justice.
“I have carefully read through all the testimonies adduced by the lone prosecution witness in the case file,” said the magistrate.
He added that the position of the law as it relates to a no-case submission in this jurisdiction is governed by Section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
In this case, he added, the prosecution, having concluded their evidence and closed the case of the prosecution, and the defence argued that the prosecution had not provided sufficient evidence to sustain the charges or sufficient evidence that would safely lead to the conviction of the accused person; hence their submission of no-case-to-answer.
It was on the basis that the ruling was being read.
“From the totality of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, there is no evidence led showing the accused drove a motor vehicle. The driving license of the accused has not been tendered before the court, showing the accused drove a motor vehicle on this fateful day. The prosecution witness failed to give any account of the accused driving a vehicle on the road,” stated the magistrate.
“I perused the entire evidence of PW1 and I could not find any single evidence that the accused left his motor vehicle in a dangerous position. The prosecution failed to provide any picture or a sketch plan of how the accused person’s vehicle was parked in a dangerous position; condition or circumstances likely to cause a danger to or an unnecessary obstruction or inconvenience to other persons using the road,” he continued.
Consequently, he said, the prosecution had not established any essential element of the offence alleged and a prima facie case had not been established.
He said the testing officer, Chief Inspector Chendu Jaw, never testified to the effect that he carried out a test of the accused’s vehicle.
The testing certificate that was issued was never tendered in evidence as exhibit, he said, adding that there was no piece of evidence showing that the accused’s vehicle was tested and, as a result, the prosecution had failed to establish this essential element of section 78 of the M. T. Act.
“Consequently, the defence counsel’s submission of no-case-to-answer on these charges is accepted and succeeds,” he said.
“Therefore, the offence charged in counts one and two are dismissed.
The accused, Isamaila Sanneh, is hereby acquitted and discharged on counts one and two accordingly,” the magistrate declared.