A three member Court of Appeal panel presided over by Justice Dennis Adjei, has set aside the judgement of a Circuit Court which found a teacher of the Bubuashie based Children’s World International School, Charles Twumasi, guilty of defiling a twelve (12) year old pupil of the school.
The judgement of the Court in the case which was entitled Charles Twumasi versus The Republic, was delivered on the 13th of February 2020. The other panel members were Justice Cecilia Sowah and Justice Amadu Tanko.
Facts of the Case
According to the twenty seven (27) paged judgement of the Court of Appeal, the charge sheet which initiated the criminal proceedings before the Circuit Court five (5) which was presided over by Circuit Judge Sedina Agbemava, was filed on the 8th of November 2013. Two (2) accused persons were charged for having defiled the victim, Tabitha Aggrey.
The facts of the case as presented by the prosecution before the trial Circuit Court Accra were that the victim then aged twelve years was a class six pupil in the Children’s World International School at Bubuashie. The first accused person was a teacher in the School while the second accused person was also an accounts clerk in the School. One morning in June 2012, the victim made use of the school urinal and when returning to her classroom, she was spotted by the first accused person who told her to go and clean the teachers toilet. As soon as the victim entered the teachers’ toilet, the first accused person followed her, locked up the toilet, had sex with her and warned her not to disclose the affair to anybody else she would not see her mother again.
On one Wednesday in September 2012 the victim went to the accounts office to pay her feeding fees and met the second accused person; the accounts clerk for the school who placed the victim on his laps and had sex with her. The victim did not disclose to anyone until she was one day bathing with her sister who detected physical changes on her body and informed their mother. Her mother took her to a nearby clinic on 1st November, 2012 and a pregnancy test conducted on her revealed that she was pregnant for twenty weeks. A report was made to the Police and the second accused person was arrested while the first accused person absconded.
The prosecution called four witnesses; Doris Aggrey, mother of the victim; Tabitha Ewura Ama Aggrey, the victim; Sylvia Evelyn Appiah, headmistress of Children’s World nternational School, where the victim was a pupil and; Detective Lance Corporal Ransford Odei Dijaba, the investigator in the matter.
Rationale of the Appeal
The Appellant (Charles Twumasi) in his trial gave evidence from the witness box and did not call any witness. At the close of the case, the trial Circuit Court Judge Convicted the Appellant of defilement and sentenced him to ten years in hard labour. The Appellant dissatisfied with his conviction and sentence appealed to the High Court Accra. The Appellant filed his petition of appeal to the High Court on 3rd April 2014. The High Court presided over by Justice Amo Yartey, on the 17th of May, 2017 affirmed the conviction by the Circuit Court and enhanced the sentence of ten (10) years imprisonment to fifteen (15) years. In the 13th of November 2017, Charles Twumasi filed another appeal at the Court of Appeal on three grounds as follows; that the trial Judge erred in convicting and sentencing him, that the appellate Court (High Court) erred in enhancing his sentence from 10 to 15 years and that the sentence was excessive and harsh.
The Judgement of the Court
The Court of Appeal after examining the evidence transmitted to it from the Circuit Court and High Court concluded that the Prosecution failed to prove its case against the second accused person but the trial Circuit Court still went ahead to convict the accused person. The High Court also failed to give careful consideration to the evidence that was before it and it went ahead to affirm the judgement of the Circuit Court.
“We hereby find and hold that there is no scintilla of evidence to prove that the Appellant defiled the victim. Furthermore, there is no evidence to prove that the victim was defiled in September, 2012. The victim (PW2) in her instructions to the Police on 31st October, 2012 told the police that she was defiled by a teacher and from the evidence Sir Nash, who is alleged to have impregnated her was a teacher and it was his name she mentioned to her sister and repeated before (PW3), the headmistress for the School. From the medical report, exhibit “A”, the Victim did not mention the name of the Appellant. She stated that it was a male teacher who defiled her” the Judgement of the Court of Appeal stated.
“The prosecution failed to prove that the victim was defiled in September, 2012. The prosecution further failed to prove that it was the Appellant who defiled the victim. “The trial Circuit Court should have acquitted the Appellant at the close of prosecution’s case after the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the Appellant. The two important elements of the offence that the victim had been defiled in September and it was the Appellant who defiled her were not proved” the Court ruled.
The judgement of the Court of Appeal further observed that the trial Circuit Court illegally convicted the first accused person, Sir Nash. The Accused person the court said was at large and never appeared before the Court.
“It is a wrong position of law to convict a person who is not tried in absentia in accordance with law” the Court stated in the judgement.
Mr. Charles Twumasi who was first arrested on the 7th of November 2012, remained in Police custody until 19th January 2013 when he was remanded into prison custody. He was convicted on the 3rd of April 2014 and remained in prison custody till the judgement of the Court of Appeal which acquitted and discharged him. According to records at the Nsawam prison, Mr. Twumasi was released from prison on the 20th of February 2020.
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