Kwabena Ampofo Twumasi-Ankrah V. The Queen (1955)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Criminal Law—Prosecution not calling eye-witnesses.
Appeals in Criminal Cases—Points not affecting soundness of conviction—When verdict not unreasonable.
Appellant was convicted of murder. When he tore off the party flag of a rival political party, the deceased with some followers went to a house, in which were members of the appellant’s party, to demand an explanation. Appellant promptly stabbed the deceased more than once and the deceased died of his wounds.
The case for appellant was that the deceased and his followers came as a hostile party, and that there was a general fight in the room in which he was held by the deceased and others; that he managed to seize a knife from someone and waved it right and left in self-preservation, and that he heard the deceased cry out that he had been wounded, whereupon people dispersed and he, the appellant, went to the police—a story which the trial Judge did not believe.
On appeal it was submitted (1) that the trial Judge erred in not directing the prosecution to call two eye-witnesses of the events: (these were adherents of the appellant and were called by the defence; the Judge found they were untruthful); (2) that the Judge tried to restrain defending counsel in the cross-examination of a certain witness; (3) that the Judge did not direct himself properly on the appellant having a reasonable belief that he was in danger of being attacked and dragged out to the mercy of a hostile crowd; and (4) that the verdict was unreasonable.
(1) A prosecutor is relieved from calling a witness present at the commission of a crime, be it murder, if he has a reasonable belief that the witness will not speak the truth.
(2) As in fact the cross-examination proceeded and no evidence material for the defence was excluded, there was no substance in the second submission.
(3) As the trial Judge rejected the evidence for the defence and accepted that of the prosecution, self-defence was ruled out.
(4) The evidence supported the finding that there had been an unprovoked attack with a dead’y weapon on a defenceless man.