Dec 17, 2013, 10:15 AM
Delivering his judgment, the trial magistrate told the court that the accused persons, Omar Touray and Amadou Janneh, were arraigned before the court and charged with two counts of house-breaking and stealing.
The particulars of offence alleged in count one that the accused persons, on 3 November 2014 at Gunjur in Kombo South, West Coast Region, broke and entered into the house of one Lamin Trawally with intent to steal.
The accused persons were alleged in count two to have, on 3 November 2014 at Gunjur in the Kombo South district of the West Coast Region, stolen items whose total value was D6, 050.00 being the properties of Lamin Trawally.
To discharge the burden of proof required in the case, the prosecution called two witnesses and tendered one exhibit, he said.
The facts relied upon by the prosecution were sufficiently elicited from the testimonies of the witnesses, he said, adding that the accused persons also testified.
The presiding magistrate told the court that he had carefully listened to the proceedings and read the testimonies adduced in the trial, where the prosecution accused the 1st and 2nd accused persons of house-breaking and stealing.
“It is the 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 trial magistrate continued.
Although, he added, 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.
With regards to the first issue in count one, as to whether the accused persons broke into the house of Lamin Trawally, was the first count on the charge sheet?
All the accused persons denied the prosecution’s allegations of house-breaking and stealing, he said, adding that there was no eyewitness account before the court that saw the two accaused persons breaking into the house of the complainant.
He said the charges against the accused persons were based on a weak circumstantial evidence that the 1st accused stole from the complainant’s neighbor, and the prosecution thus implied that the 1st accused stole from the complainant.
The prosecution did not tender any voluntary or cautionary statements of the accused persons, the magistrate said.
According to the magistrate, the accused persons at all material times denied the allegation of house-breaking and stealing and there was no credible evidence before the court, showing that the accused were seen breaking into the house of Lamin Trawally.
“My mind is clouded with doubts as to whether the accused persons actually broke into the house of Lamin Trawally,” he said.
“At this stage, I am convinced that the evidence led by the prosecution does not sufficiently identify and point to the accused persons as the individuals who broke into the house of Lamin Trawally, and this I shall hold as a fact,” he added.
Therefore, he went on, the allegation of house-breaking under count one had not been established by the prosecution, and this he must hold as a fact.
There was nexus between the first and second count and since the prosecution had failed to establish the house-breaking under count one, it would be worthless and would amount to an exercise in futility if he tried to venture into the elements of the second count as to whether the accused persons stole in the house they never broke into, he further stated.
“What this means is that I have a shadow of doubt in my mind whether or not it is the accused persons who committed the offences alleged by the prosecution,” stated the trial magistrate.
“Therefore, the accused are hearby acquitted and discharged for the offence allegedly committed,” declared the magistrate.