Crime & Punishment Thu, 22 Mar 2012

Alleged murderers of Reverend Barnes for trial

Two people who allegedly conspired and murdered Reverend Sydney Thomas Barnes, a British, American Missionary and buried him on an old farm at Nsawam are to stand trial at an Accra High Court.

They are, Kofi Seidu, a driver and farm manager of the deceased and Rev. George Padmore, an educationist would appear before the High Court on April 24 on charges of conspiracy and murder.

This was after the State had instituted committal proceedings at an Accra Magistrate Court.

Two years after allegedly murdering the missionary aged 75, a bill of indictment and summary of evidence have been served on them.

Meanwhile, the Magistrate's Court presided over by Mr Ali Baba Bature has ordered its Registrar to transfer the committal proceedings to the High Court.

Seidu, 34, who was given the opportunity to speak concerning the charges, told the court that he together with one Issaka Mohammed, now discharged by the court, and two others killed the missionary.

He said he only obtained 3,000 dollars after committing that nefarious act and gave Rev. Padmore 1,500 dollars while the rest of the money were given to Issaka and two unknown accomplices to share.

Seidu admitted that he picked the deceased from the airport to Koforidua but on reaching a section on the Aburi mountains pretended that the car on which they were travelling had developed a mechanic fault.

“When I got out of the car to ascertain what the fault could be, the two men emerged from the bush and they and Issaka attacked the missionary,” Seidu said.

Seidu told the court that when he decided to intervene during the struggle, the men threatened to kill him.

Notwithstanding the struggle the men overcame the deceased and he saw blood oozing from his body and they put the deceased in the car and sent the corpse to an old farm for burial.

Seidu said he informed Rev. Padmore of the incident and he (Rev.Padmore) asked him to keep mute over the matter.

Later he received several invitations from the Police and upon second thought decided to confess to the crime.

In the case of Rev. Padmore he denied Seidu’s side of the story.

Prosecuting, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, Principal State Attorney said the deceased was a missionary attached to the Calvary Chapel in the United States of America.

She said in 1997, the deceased came to Ghana as a missionary and established the Crossroads Christian Mission Incorporated in Koforidua in the Eastern Region.

He also established Prestige Secretarial and Computer School, Koforidua and owned Manna Missions Farms at Akwamu Amanfo, near Nsawam.

Mrs Keelson said the deceased, employed Seidu as a driver and farm manager and Rev. Padmore as the Principal of the Computer and Secretarial School in Koforidua.

Sometime in December 2009, the deceased took his leave and travelled to the USA on holidays but he constantly communicated with his employees especially Rev. Padmore.

On March 10, 2009, the prosecutor said the deceased informed Rev Padmore that he would be returning to Ghana on March 18, 2010 on board a British Airways Flight.

The deceased therefore, asked Rev. Padmore to inform Seidu to pick him up at the airport in the evening on March 18.

On that day, Rev. Padmore instructed Seidu to pick the deceased up but later on Seidu called back to inform Rev. Padmore that the deceased was nowhere to be found as he was not among the passengers on board the British Airways Flight.

Prosecution said from that time, the two accused persons did not receive any information on the deceased.

However, in May 2010, friends and partners of the deceased in the US started becoming worried about the well being of the deceased because they had lost contact with him since he left the US.

The prosecutor said through the efforts of the deceased's friend, Donne Pouguini, a Ghanaian who lived at Nkawkaw in the Eastern Region, managed to get in touch with the deceased's church in Koforidua, where he met the accused persons.

She said the accused persons informed Pouguini that they had also lost contact with the deceased.

In June 2010, Pouguini managed to get the two accused persons to accompany him to Accra to lodge a complainant with the Police, who in turn commenced investigations with publications on the search for the deceased.

During the investigations, it was revealed that the deceased flew from USA to London with electronic ticket number 1257465295192. The deceased also arrived in London and checked in at Comfort Hotel at Heathrow.

The deceased however, left on March 18, 2010 using the same ticket to board British Airways Flight to Ghana.

Enquiries at the Ghana Immigration Service indicated that the deceased checked out at about 10:03 pm.

Based on that, prosecution said Seidu was therefore picked up by the Police on September 26, 2010 and he denied ever picking the deceased from the airport.

On October 4, 2010, Seidu confessed that the deceased had been killed, adding, he was persuaded by Rev. Padmore to kill the deceased in order to take away all the money the deceased was bringing from USA.

Seidu, the prosecutor said, mentioned that he found 3,000 dollars on the deceased and he gave that money to Rev Padmore, who gave him (Seidu) half of the amount.

On October 11, 2010, Seidu led a team of pathologists and Police investigators to Manna Missions Farms at Nsawam where he had buried the deceased and the body was exhumed and sent to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital for autopsy.

On October 13, 2010, autopsy conducted indicated that the deceased died of multiple stab injuries.**

Source: GNA