Rex V. Stephen Ozekwe Obiase (1938)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Held: Although the section casts onus on accused once possession is proved, the onus remains on Crown to prove conclusively such possession; appeal allowed, conviction quashed, etc.
There is no need to set out the facts.
A. Soetan for Appellant.
C. N. S. Pollard for Crown.
The following joint judgment was delivered :—
KINGDON, C.J., NIGERIA, BUTLER LLOYD AND CAREY, JJ.
This is a case where the appellant was convicted in the High Court of the Enugu-Onitsha Division of having in his possession thirteen counterfeit shillings without lawful authority or excuse contra. section 150A of the Criminal Code. The evidence against him was that when his house was searched, under a warrant, for illicit liquor these coins were found in a tin on a wall of the house—a wall to which access could be obtained either from within or without the house. His defence was that the coins were ” planted ” by an enemy. The case is somewhat similar to that of Rex v. Ogugu Onuoha* where this Court in giving its reason on the 4th November, 1936, for quashing the conviction pointed out that when an Appeal Court is asked to quash a conviction on the ground that it cannot be supported having regard to the evidence every case must depend on its own particular circumstances.
In the present case, under the new section 150A, although once possession is proved the onus is cast upon the accused to prove lawful authority or excuse, the onus still remains upon the prosecution to give conclusive evidence of possession. That is to say the prosecution must prove facts which are no capable of any other_ reasonable explanation than that the__ coins were in accused’s possessiOn: that is to say in the present case that the
ccrifirraccused’s– —house– wiii—tliefe—v–IitY –Ifs guilty
VG—can find in the case no one fact or combination of acts which conclusively negatives the alternative possibility that the coins were in accused’s house unknown to him, having beer ” planted ” there by some one else.
There are minor points such as that the police ” find ” was Rex apparently unexpected, but there is nothing conclusively’-
inconsistent with the appellant’s innocence. For these reasons Stephen
we think that it is unsafe to convict in such a case as this.
The appeal is accordingly allowed, the conviction and sentence are set aside and it is ordered that a judgment and Kingdon, verdict of acquittal be entered, and that the appellant be C.J.