One Ousman Barry of Sachaba Sulay Jobe Touba, Friday received 20 years imprisonment with hard labour from the Special Criminal Court, presided over by Justice Emmauel Nkea, for the single count charge of unlawful raping of an under-age girl, contrary to the Laws of The Gambia.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the rape charge pressed against him by the state prosecution, led by Nyimasata Jawara and defended by the Legal Aid Office, with series of witnesses called from both the prosecution and defence sides of the case.
However, delivering his judgment on the matter following the closure of both prosecution and defence cases, the High Court judge made reference to the history of the case, the witnesses called in by the prosecution, exhibits tendered and the lone evidence received from the accused.
According to the judge, the prosecution case as contained in the bill of indictment and testimonies of the witnesses was that the accused on November 20th 2011, had an unlawful canal knowledge of an under-age girl, name withheld, thereby committed the offence of rape, contrary to the laws of The Gambia.
Justice Nkea said the accused denied the charge and adduced among others that he sent the victim to buy a laundery soap, and the victim's return concided with his opening of his door that hit the victim to the ground, contrary to allegations that he raped her, without her consent.
The judge then made reference to the medical report and evidence of the first prosecution witness. According to him, the medical report indicated penetration and the fourth prosecution witness also said she saw the accused lying on top of the victim having sex with her, which prompted the matter being reported at the police station.
The judge then made different legal citations and decided rape cases and finally announced that he believed in the evidence of the fourth prosecution witness, who said she saw the accused lying on the victim and her evidence has been corroborated by the medical report and other evidence before the court.
The legal aid counsel then narrated a plea for mitigation, urging the court to temper justice with mercy considering the youthful age of the convict; hence the need for the court to impose custodial sentence, but a lesser one.
The convict was later sentenced to serve 20 years imprisonment with hard labour, cognizant of the offence he committed on a very young innocent girl. He spoke about the need to keep the convict away from the society for a while so as to prevent others from his unlawful act, as exhibited on the victim.
10 years imprisonment
Meanwhile, Justice Emmanuel Nkea on the same Friday convicted and sentenced one Momodou Sowe, to serve 10 years imprisonment for the offence of manslaughter, contrary to the laws of The Gambia.
The convict was charged with killing of one Bubacarr Ceesay in Mariama Kunda some time in the year 2011, but he denied the charge and was later found guilty of manslaughter with imposition of 10 years in jail and hard labour.
The judge referred to the history of the case, evidences adduced from both sides and exhibits tendered. Giving the summary of the evidence, the judge informed that the convict went with the deceased to cattle grazing in Mariama Kunda, but the deceased never returned, and when the convict was interrogated, he denied beating the deceased with a stick on the head.
According to the judge, the convict had alleged that three people left with the deceased, while they were on the grazing field and were responsible for his death, but those people denied the allegation.
However, the convict had confessed in a statement that he indeed hit the deceased with a stick on his head, but said he never knew such hitting would occasion death. According to the judge, the state counsel urged the court to determine the charge from the direction of circumstantial evidence and statement of the culprit and also consider whether the death was caused through malice afore-thought and convict the culprit.
The justice later posed the following questions; as to whether the death was caused by malice afore-thought, force used on the deceased which caused the death and the weapon used, as well as whether the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. He affirmed that the court believed that the prosecution proved a case against the convict and accordingly convicted him.
Again the Legal Aid counsel made another plea for mercy, urging the court to temper justice with mercy, considering the remorsefulness of the convict through out the trial and his responsibilities, taking care of his old aged mother prior to his arrest and detention. According to the defence counsel, the convict is less than 24 years and that he is a close friend of the deceased; hence the need for the court to impose lesser sentence.
He was accordingly sentenced to serve 10 years with hard labour.