Rex V. Kojo Bodom & Ors (1935)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Murder—Admissions to Police by prisoners at locus in quo soon after beating irregular and inadmissible—Wrongful admission of confessions induced by person in authority—Assessors not informed that confession evidence only against person making it.
Held: Convictions quashed.
The facts are sufficiently sot out in the judgment.
H. A. Hayfron-Benjamin for Appellants. T. A. Brown. for Crown.
The following judgment was delivered :— YATES, ACTING C.J.„ GOLD COAST.
The accused were tried ‘zit the lost Assizes held in Kumasi before Bannerman, J. sittinsx with Assessors, on a charge of murder, they were convicted and from this conviction they have appealed. The two material grfmnds of appeal are misdirection by the learned Judge in his summing up to the Assessors, and the reception of inadmissible evidence.
Very briefly the facts are as follows. The deceased Kwaku Opong lived at a village called Manfu and one day it was reported to the Odikro he was missing, a search party was instituted, and subsequently his dead body was found hanging on a tree in a farm belonging to the second accused. On the next day an assembly was held in the village to find out who had killed the deceased, and as a result suspicion fell on the four accused. They were then tied hand and foot and thoroughly beaten with the object of making them confess. The Police were then sent for and the prisoners arrested and cautioned. They were then taken to the locus in quo where they made certain admission?. They were then taken to Kumasi where they were formally charged with murder and each of them made a confession. At the trial, these confessions were admitted in evidence though objected to at the
time. In admitting these statements the Court is of opinion that the learned Judge was wrong and for two reasons. Firstly, because the prisoners had been told by Yaw Bafo who seemed to be in authority at Manfu, that they should confess,. and moreover because the Court believes they were induced to confess because of the severe beatings they had received, and secondly because when the confessions were admitted in evidence the learned Judge failed to inform the Assessors that the evidence of the confession was only evidence against the person who made it and not against the other three prisoners. Moreover it appears from the learned Judge’s notes of his summing up, no reference is made that lie directed the Assessors on this point, and the Court is of opinion he did not do so as he says ” he himself attached great importance to these confessions ” and it seems clear lie failed to direct himself also on this point. The Court is therefore of opinion firstly that the evidence of these confessions should not have been admitted because they were induced by beatings, and secondly that the learned Judge misdirected himself and the Assessors.
The second point taken by Mr. Benjamin counsel for the accused is that inadmissible evidence was accepted by the Court. During the course of the trial it transpired that after the prisoners had been arrested by the Police, they were cautioned and taken to the locus in quo for the purpose of obtaining admissions from them—that admissions were made—and were given in evidence against the accused. This course of action by the Police which is contrary to every principle of English justice cannot be too strongly deprecated. Their plain duty after making the arrest, was to take the accused to the Police Station and detain them there until the trial, and it is little short of scandalous that prisoners should be taken to the scene of _a. crime in order that evidence should be obtained against them—this evidence is clearly inadmissible.
Of the above reasons the Court is unanimously of opinion the conviction must be quashed and it therefore is quashed.