Rex V. William Oledima (1940)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Manslaughter con. 325 C.C.—no certainty as to cause of death—Appeal allowed.
Held : It is not sufficient to prove that the act of the accused person could have caused death. As the possibility that death may have been due to other causes is not excluded, the conviction cannot stand.
The facts are sufficiently set out in the judgment.
0. 0. Alakija for Appellant.
Reece for Crown.
The following joint judgment was delivered
KINGDOM, C.J., NIGERIA, PETRIDES, C. J., GOLD COAST AND GRAHAM PAUL, C.J., SIERRA LEONE.
In this.case the Appellant was convicted in the High Court of the Enugu-Onitsha Division of the manslaughter of one Joseph Anyanwu. The prosecution case was that the Appellant injected the deceased in the buttock thereby causing an infection from which the deceased died. There is only one point raised on the appeal, namely : was the cause of death proved ? The material evidence on this point is that of the 3rd witness for the prosecution. the Medical Practitioner who performed the post-mortem examination on the body of the deceased He says:–
” On 11th April, 1940 I conducted a post-mortem on Joseph Anyanwu identified to me by Ekechuku—Death had taken place about 48 hours before—The right leg, thigh and hip bigger circumference than left crackling with emphysema—in right buttock—wound 14″ long caused by sharp instrument—out of the wound came blackish fluid—I incised it and saw 3″ deep and 4″ in diameter a slough emphysematous mass—surrounding parts showed lesser decay but were also emphysematous—it was a typical advanced infection of gas gangrene—The cause of death was infections due to gas gangrene—An injection could cause the infection if the needle were dirty or germs in the injection or germs on the skin introduced into the body by injection.”
Now to establish a charge of murder or manslaughter it must be proved not merely that the act of the accused person c’)uld have caused the death of the deceased, but that it did. In this case the doctor’s evidence is merely to the effect that the act of _the Appellant could have caused Joseph Anyanwu’s death. The possibility that the gangrenous condition NA as due to causes other than the injection is not excluded. Gonsequently the evidence is not sufficient to prove the cause -of death or to support the conviction.
ie appeal is allowed, the le convict ion and senten are quaslied and it is directed that a judgment and verdict of acquittal be entered and that the Appellant be discharged.