Rex V. Theodore Kalla Quan (1944)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Criminal Law—Fraudulent false accounting and stealing—Fraudulent false accounting proved—Loss due to false accounting proved—not necessarily inference of theft by accused—where alternative possibility.
On seven charges of fraudulent false accounting and seven charges of stealing the appellant pleaded that he falsified the books on orders of his superior officer and did not steal the goods the stealing of which was made possible by the false accounting.
1. Abundant evidence that he knew the false entries were for purpose of defrauding his employers. Convictions for false accounting confirmed (except one which was bad for duplicity).
- Proof of fraudulent false accounting does not necessarily follow that the person who falsified the accounts is the thief. On six charges there was a possibility that his superior officer did reap the benefit of the fraud. Accused must be given the benefit of the doubt and the convictions must be quashed. On the 7th charge of stealing which was made possible by a different and more ingenious form of false accounting the Defence was the same as in the other charges of stealing but had ‘no more than appellant’s ‘mere mere ipse dixit to support it. Appeal dismissed on this charge.
- It matters nothing that accused reaped no benefit from the fraudulent false accounting and that it merely made stealing possible by another. Nor that he did it under instructions if he knew the intent was to defraud. Although it is an inference which is generally property drawn that the person who rendered the stealing possible by his false accounting was also guilty of the theft it is not always so. If an alternative explanation is put forward and supported by evidence and there is a possibility that the explanation is true the accused must be given the benefit of the doubt.
The appeal against the sentences passed upon counts 1, 3, 5, 13 and 14 is dismissed.