Rex V. Thomas Camara (1938)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Extortion by a Public Ocer contra. section 87 of the Criminal Iffi Code—Questions of irregularity of trial and admissibility of Supreme evidence raised by Appellant.
Held: Appeal dismissed.
There is no need to set out the facts.appellate
S. A. Benka-Coker for Crown.tion.
C. D. H. During for Appellant.
The following joint judgment was delivered :—
KINGDON, C.J., NIGERIA, PETRIDES, C.J., GOLD COAST AND WEBB, C.J., SIERRA LEONE.
In this case the appellant was charged in the Provincial Court of the South Bank Province with extortion by a public officer contrary to section 87 of the Criminal Code. The particulars were set out in fifteen counts each charging a separate offence. He pleaded not guilty to all counts. Whereupon he was tried upon three of the counts namely Nos. 6, 10 and 11. The Commissioner who constituted the Court, found the appellant ” Guilty on all three counts,” and passed the following sentence :—
” Six months’ imprisonment with hard labour and a fine of Z40: in default of payment of the fine a further six months’ imprisonment with hard labour consecutively to first six months. Three months given to accused to pay the fine. Sentence in respect of all three counts.”
The appellant appealed to the Supreme Court which upheld the convictions but varied the sentence to sentences of four months imprisonment on each count to run concurrently. The appellant has now appealed to this Court against the convictions on questions of law.
One point made by his counsel is that the trial was irregular in that the Commissioner heard evidence on all the three counts before giving his decision on any one, thereby prejudice the fair trial. As to this, the procedure followed was that expressly sanctioned by section 113 of the Criminal Procedure Code and that is nothing on this point.
Then counsel submitted that the trial was irregular because
v•only one conviction was recorded; but this is not the case. The
Thomasfinding expressly stated ” Guilty on all three counts.” Next counsel
argued that the trial was vitiated because only one sentence was
Kingdon,passed in respect of the three counts. This was not in accordance
Petrideswith the usual practice ; but if it amounted to an irregularity, it
and Webb, was one which could be, and was, in fact cured by the Supreme
C.JJ. Court on appeal. The sentences which were passed by the Supreme Court are in order and the departure from the usual practice in the court of trial is not a sufficient reason for quashing the convictions.
Counsel for the appellant further submitted that certain inadmissible evidence was wrongly admitted at the trial. He complained first that the evidence of Dr. Bright-Richards should not have been admitted at all because that witness was called by the Court after the case for the defence was closed. But the accused expressly asked for this witness to be called. And by calling him itself the Court gave the accused the additional advantage of being able to cross-examine. The appellant obviously suffered no prejudice and has no ground for complaint. Counsel then pointed to a considerable body of evidence which he submitted was inadmissible because it referred to previous complaints of previous offences committed by accused. But an examination of the evidence referred to does not bear out counsel’s submission. The evidence makes reference to no charges or specific complaints against the appellant, but is merely of a general nature showing that complaints against the staff generally had been received and that the appellant amongst others had been warned not to do the very fact of which he had been found guilty. This is very different from the facts in the cases quoted by counsel in all of which evidence of specific offences was allowed to go to the Jury.
The evidence in question in this case was clearly admissible.
There is no substance in any of the points submitted on behalf of the appellant and the appeal is dismissed.