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Rex V. Kofi Boateno Alias Ebenezer Alfred Boateng (1941) LJR-WACA

Rex V. Kofi Boateno Alias Ebenezer Alfred Boateng (1941)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Conviction for receiving—Another accused pleaded Guilty to the Stealing—Question-s between stolen articles and those found in accused’s possession—No identification of articles—sections 27, 29 and 43 of Criminal Code—Was evidence 61 circumstances of receiving sufficient proof that goods were stolen, without other evidence of theft?—

Held : ,IpTidones wit, appeal dismissed. There is no need to Pet out ,the facts.

Cases referred to

Rex v. Sbarra (18 Cr. App. Rep. 118). Rex v. Fuschillet(27 Cr.. App. Rep. 193).

A. Ridelealgh for Crown.

A. S. E. Brown for Appellant.

The following joint judgment was delivered :—

KINGDON, C. J., NIGERIA, PETRIDES, C. J., GOLD COAST AND GRAHAM PAUL, C. J., SIERRA LEONE.

In this case the Appellant_ was charged in the Supreme Court

9 at the Kumasi Assi,ses with three other men on two counts, the first being ” Burglary ” contrary to section 291 of the Criminal Coda, of which the particulars given were that the four men in the night unlawfully broke the dwelling house of H, J.-N. Chapman for the purpose of stealing, and the second ” Stealing from a dwelling house ” contrary to section 271 (2) of the Criminal Code, of which the particulars given were that the four men stole from or in the dwelling house of H. J. N. Chapman a number of articles including one bottle of whisky and one tin skipper sardines the property of the said H. J. N. Chapman. In the Court below the appellant was the third defendant. The first defendant pleided ” Guilty ” to both counts, the other three including the appellant, ” Not Guilty “. The appellantwas found ” Not Guilty ” on the first and

” in his p9ssesskin_ knowing ..thera An.,..haire,luten stolen property 74
the articles in auestion. being one_bottie__ef .w.hisky_and one tin

.skipper sardines. He was sentenced to tyo. years Imprisonment Hard Labour. Against_ that conviction he ‘has appealed to this Court on the ground of error in law and has given four heads of alleged error, but only the first two need be considered; they are :

  1. It was not proved that the bottle of Black and White Whisky ” and a tin of Skipper Sardines alleged to have been found on the ” appellant were stolen from the complainant. Neither thir’ ” complainant nor his witnesses gave evidence that Skipper Sardinesi ” were at ben from the Bungalow and the bottle of Black and White ” Whisky was not identified- as the whisky alleged to be stelim.
  2. The appellant was not charged with Receiving of the Inform” tion and the evidence us adduced do not support the conviction. ” Pliers was no evidence showing a nexus between the vaiiiiiy-Which the ” lot accused by his plea admitted stealing and that found” possession of the appellant.”
See also  Sahid Jaffa & Anor V. Thomas Elias (1953) LJR-WACA

In regard to the first sentence of (h) the conviction for ” receiving ” on a charge of stealing is in order-by virtue of the provisions of section 143 of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Chapter 10) provided that the evidence ii-sufficient to support it.

The evidence in regard to the two -articles in respect of which the appellant was convicted must be considered separately.

First as to the bottle of whisky. It was proved that a bottle’ of Black and White Whisky was stolen .irom_ Mr Chapman’s store and that a bottle of Black and White Whisky was found in the appellant’s house. Mr Chapman’s steward-boy, Yaw Badu, professed to identify the bottle found in appellant’s house as the stolen bottle by its crumpled label. But in this Court counsel for the Crown admitted that the learned trial ‘Jtidge rejected this identification, and on our referring to the Judge, he, in effect, confirms. We have, therefore, carefully examined the evidence to ascertain if there is any other evidence identifying the bottle of whisky found as the bottle stolen, and we find that there is none.

As to the tin of sardines, although it was proved that Mr Chapman’s store vontained tins of sardines, it was not preyed that limy of them were Hloieu. Therefore no question of identificatiati irises. It is true that the first defendant pleaded “Aluilty ” to slealing, inter cilia, one tin of skipper sardines, but such admission is not evidence against the appellant to establish the theft.

It is clear, therefore, that neither of the articles for the receiving of which the appellant was convicted was identified as articles stolen front Mr Chapman’s store. But. the conviction, and the Crown case to uphold it, do not depend on such identification. In his report the learned trial Judge has recorded:—

See also  Festus Makene Ikomi V. John Ojobo Agbeyegbe (1948) LJR-WACA

4’1 I held, as I explained in detail at the time, that the necessary ” proof according to the provisions of sections 27, 29. and 43 of the ” Criminal Code, that the bottle of whisky found in appellant’s ” possession was appropriated dishonestly or by any crime, was

” established by the peculiar _circumstances of the case, bearing in mind Rex ” the principle that the _circumstances in which the defendant received’

” the goods may, of themselves, be sufficient proof that the goods were Boateng. ” stolen and that it is not a rule of law that there must be other evidence

u of the theft,”Vingdon,

Pettidei

and counsel for the Crown in this Court has submitted to us that and

apart from identification there was evidence to be considered by graham Paul the Judge upon which he mid properly convict, and that all the ‘jj. surrounding circumstances mist be looked at

As to this it is cundoxittedly good,.law that on a charge of dishonestly receiving property “knowing it to have been stolen, it is not essential to prove the identity of property with property the proceeds of a particular theft, and that the necessary guilty knowledge may be inferred from .all the circumstances of the case. (Rex v. Sbarra, 13 Ci„ App{ Rep, 118; _Rex v. l’ttischillo, 27 Cr. App. Rep. 193).” A.Act-14`usehillo’s caae seems to indicate t_hat it is not necessary that t1 only, passible inference to be drawn from the facts should be 41sitl–. tpseporty.–was-stolen property to the knowledge of the defendant, but that where that inference is one of several which can possibly be made it is for the jury (if the case was tried with a jury) to draw the inference which appears to them to be correct and give a verdict accordingly. In the present case there was no jury and so the duty of drawing an inference fell upon the trial Judge…!-The only question for this Court is whether or not there was evidence upon *blot he cotilit properly draw the inferenp wiliaL he cis. Ttliat tlbeftli, of whisky and the tin of sardines were stolen property antithat third __defendant .knew_it. The evidence upon which the Judge could base the necessary inference was

The respective places in which the bottle of whisky and the tin of sardines were found in the defendant’s house–the whisky under one of the petrol cases on which a man named Martin had been sleeping, the sardines on a window sill where there were many books ” after the books were removed “. The suggestion of the prosecution is that both the whisky and the sardines were hidden; if that suggestion is accepted it can be construed as evidence of guilty knowledge.

See also  Rex V. William Opara (1943) LJR-WACA

Sub-Inspector of Police Ofori Addo gave evidence that when the defendant was arrested, cautioned and asked to account for the whisky he said, ” I bought it, a month ago ” from the U.A.C. store No. 2 at Snnyani—I bought it for ” the ceremony because I was going to marry a girl “, whereas the following morning he said, ” I was afraid last ” night and so I said I bought the whisky from the U.A.C. ” store No. 2; that is not true. I picked it up at the place ” where I found the sardines “. If this evidence is

believed, it shows that appellant gave two different versions of how he came by the whisky; one must be untrue; and this of itself affords evidenee of guilty knowledge.’

The defendant called no evidence to support his statement that he bovght the whisky from the United Africa Company, which if it were true should have been easy of corroboration. If, therefore, the other alternative is accepted namely that he found the wItsky at the same place as the sardines (in a bush path), the circumstances of the acquisition may be regarded as so suspicious as to imply guilty knowledge.

The same applies to the tin of sardines which defendant says ” I found in the road “.

In the aggregate this may not amount to very much, but it is certainly sufficient, and that being so we are unable to say that the learned trial Judge was wrong in his findink that the Appellant was guilty of receiving these articles knowing them to have been stolen property.


The appeal is dismissed.

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