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Rex V. Samuel Akpan & Ors (1940) LJR-WACA

Rex V. Samuel Akpan & Ors (1940)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

The fact that an accomplice pleading guilty was not sentenced before giving evidence for the Crown will not cause a conviction to be quashed provided that the Judge warned himself adequately as to the necessity for corroboration and that there was in fact sufficient corroboration.

Held : Conviction upheld.

There is no need to set out the facts.

J. S. R. Cole for Crown.

The following joint judgment was delivered :— KINGDON, C.J., CAREY AND BROOKE, JJ.

In this case the three appellants weie charged with the possession of apparatus for making counterfeit coins contrary to section 148 (3) (c) of the criminal Code, They were tried not only jointly with each other but also jointly with a fourth man named Samuel Akpan who was charged with the same offence but with slightly different particulars.

The charges arose out of the same transaction. Samuel Akpan pleaded guilty and was then called as the first and principal witness for the prosecution. The learned Trial Judge found all the accused guilty and sentenced them accordingly. The principal question that arises upon the appeal concerns the calling of the man Samuel Akpan as a witness for the prosecution before he had been sentenced. This question was considered by the Court of Criminal Appeal in England in the case of R. v. Robert Smith (18 Crim. App. Rep. p.19) when Avory, J. in giving the judgment of the Court said :—

” Without saying that in every case it is proper to sentence an accomplice pleading guilty before he gives evidence for the Crown, it is obvious that where he is not sentenced it is more than ever necessary to warn the jury about accepting his testimony, because, naturally, his object is to mitigate his own punishment.”

See also  The Resident & Anor V. Memudu Lagunju (1954) LJR-WACA
In this case, we think that, without question, the proper course was for sentence to have been passed upon Samuel Akpan before he was allowed to be called for the Crown. But the fact that this was not done will not lead us to quash the convictions provided thal the judge warned himself adequately as to the necessity for corroboration, and that there was in fact sufficient corroboration. As to this the Judge did warn himself very fully as to the necessity for corroboration and gave very special attention to the question of corroboration. As to the sufficiency of the corroboration there was in the case of the 3rd appellant ample, and in the case of the 1st and 2nd appellants, though not very much, sufficient in law.

The appeals of all the appellants are accordingly dismissed.

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