Rex V. Mensah Akoto (1941)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Murder—Unsworn evidence of 2 infer pts of 3/4 andyearsrespectively—SPction 17 (3) of Cap. 206—Corroboration required and nature of corroboration necessary-;-111.-will of witness corroborating may render it insufficient—Other corroboration.
Held : Jury properly directed, ample corroboration and appeal dismissed.
There is no need to set out the facts.
Rex v. Manses (25 Cr. App. Rep. 18). A. Ridehalgh for Crown.
Akulo Addo for Appellant.
The following joint judgment was delivered :—
KINGDON, C. J., NIGERIA, PETRIDES, C. J., GOLD COAST AND GRAHAM PAUL, C. J., SIERRA LEONE.
The appellant was charged in the Supreme Court at Accra with the murder of a woman Kpata Yivanyo. He was found guilty by a jury and condemned to death. He has appealed to this Court against his conviction.
A number of grounds of appeal have been filed but none of them has any substance except (a), ,,(d) and (g) which are as follows:—
(a) That the two main witnesses in the case are infants aged about three years and five years respectively who gave evidence without oath being administered to them. Their evidence as appeared on record was not corroborated in any particular by the other adult witnesses. The evidence of the younger of the infants who appeared to be an eye witness to the deed was not corroborated by any witness.
(d) That apart –from the evidence of the two infants there is no evidence on record in support of the charge.
(g) That the condemned prisoner should have been discharged on the evidence on record.
Essentially all, these grounds involve one and the same question, Rex namely, whether there is on record ‘sufficient corroboration of thesvaii
evidence of the two infante Adjo Adjoba and Novihiawo Afi who are Akoto.
the daughters of the murdered woman aged respectively about three—
or four years of age and about five- years of age, their evidence Frti.=’ being taken unworn under section 17 (3) of Cap. 206 as they and
appeared to the trial Judge to be of immature age and to understand glarn.j Paul
that they must speak the truth..
There is definite medical evidence that the death of lipata Yivanyo was due to strangulation and there is no doubt that the evidence of the two children is sufficient to establish that it was the appellant who strangled her and the only question in the appeal is whether there is corroboration of their evidence within the meaning of the proviso to section 17 (3) of Cap. 206 which is as follows :—
” And provided further that no person shall be :convicted ” or judgment given upon the uncorroborated evidence Qf a ” person who shall have given his evidence without oath or ” affirmation.”
It is also cleaeon the authority of Rex v. ianser (25 Cr. App. Rep. 18) that the evidence of one child does not supply the requisite corroboration of the evidence Qf the other.
In his, notes of his summing-up to the jury the trial Judge said in regard to the evidence of the two children :—
” I explained to the jury that they ,must not convict on such ” evidence unless it – was corroborated in some material particular.”
There can be no doubt ‘that there is on record evidence which, if believed, would amount to ample corroboration of the stories of the two children.
The murdered woman lived with the appellant as his mistress. Her plead body was found at the back of his house. So-far as the evidence for the prosecution goes the appellant was the last person to see the murdered woman alive. The evidence shows that there were signs—swelling on the neck and blood oozing from her- nostrils —that the woman had not died from natural causes, and yet she was buried at dead of night without any report having been made to the Chief or to the Police. There is also the evidence of liwasi Bator an uncle of the murdered woman who questioned the appellant after the burial as to the death of his niece. He says ” Accused ” told me deceased had gone to a village to claim a debt, and that ” the following day she was found dead with her neck broken. ” He said blood was coining out of her nostrils and mouth,. and ” her shoulder was bruised. He said a cloth she had on, and ” 150 was missing. I said no you suggest she has been *` murdered ‘ ? He said ‘ Yes I said ‘ Have you found out
” who murdered her? ‘ He said ‘ No.’ I said Then I accuse you ” of killing my niece, for you have made no endeavour to find out ” who killed her ‘. Accused made no reply. I made a –report to ” the Chief. As a result accused was arrested “. The body of the
murdered woman vas then exhumed and exby a doctor and
the proceedings started against the appellant.
If that evidence of Kwasi Bator is believed it is clear that it is enough corroboration of the evidence of the children. It was suggested, however, on behalf of the appellant that the evidence of Kwasi Bator should not be accepted as he Was actuated ‘by ill-will towards the appellant in giving his evidence Whether that evidence should be believed or not was of course a question for the jury and the trial Judge in leaving the question of the credibility of this and another witness (also an uncle of the murdered woman) Anku Nukpe to the jury said :—” The evidence of these two ” witnesses should be treated with caution as there was undoubted ” ill-feeling on their .part against accused because of his having
taken deceased, who was their niece, away from her husband. ” without their consent, and without paying pacification “. That was a very clear warning to the jury that thecae witnesses might have been committing perjury on account of their ill-will towards the appellant.
It may also be noted,– as the trial Judge in his summing-up noted, that ” the injuries described by the doctor are such as could ” be caused by injuries inflicted in the way the first young witness ” says they were “, That is certainly corroboration of the story of the first young witness in a material particular though of itself it does not necessarily connect the appellant with the crime of inflicting the injuries.
Upon the whole matter we are satisfied that there was, -in thf., circumstances of this case as disclosed by the evidence, ampli evidence to corroborate the evidence of the two children, and we an, therefore unable to find that the jury had not before them evidence on which they could rightly find the appellant guilty, as they did.
The appeal is therefore dismissed.