THE REPUBLIC vs. PRINCE ADU GYAMFI & ANOR
  • IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE
    IN THE HIGH COURT (COMMERCIAL DIVISION)
    KUMASI - A.D 2015
THE REPUBLIC
PRINCE ADU GYAMFI & ANOR

DATE:  26TH MAY, 2015
CASE NO:  CC/764/14
JUDGES:  HER LADYSHIP ANGELINA MENSAH-HOMIAH (MRS.)
LAWYERS: 
JUDGMENT

Prince Adu Gyamfi (aged 20 years) and Rafiu Adams (aged 17 years), were first arraigned before the Circuit Court, Kumasi in February, 2014. They have now been charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and robbery, contrary to Sections 23(1) and 149 of the Criminal and Other offences Act, 1960, Act 29. They pleaded not guilty to the charges, hence the instant trial.

 

A summary of the facts leading to this case are as follows: In the night of 18/02/2014, the two accused persons raided the room of the complainant at Kronum, a suburb of Kumasi. At gun point, they took away the complainant's two HP laptop computers valued at GHS 2,400.00, two Samsung phones valued at GHs 300 and cash of GHS 44.00. They were however arrested by the police patrol team in the Dechemso area at about 2am on 19/02/2014 on suspicion of being criminals. The accused persons led the police to Abidjan hotel Room 19 at Dechemso where two laptops, two modems and a locally manufactured pistol were found. At the police station, the Complainant identified the said laptops and modems as his and also identified the accused persons as those who had robbed him.

 

Under our laws, the ingredients of these offences can be found in sections 23(1) and 150 of Act 29 as follows:

 

Section 23 (1):

 

"Where two or more persons agree to act together with a common purpose for or in committing or abetting a criminal offence, whether with or without a pervious concert or deliberation, each of them commits a conspiracy to commit or abet the criminal offence."

 

Section 150:

 

" A person who steals a things is guilty of robbery if and for the purpose of stealing he uses force or causes harm to any other person, or if he uses a threat or criminal assault or harm to any other person, with intent to prevent or overcome the resistance of the other person to the stealing of the thing."

 

Thus, the prosecution is enjoined by sections 11(2) and 13(1) of the Evidence Act, 1975 NRCD 323 to prove the guilt of the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fail in this duty, the accused persons are entitled to be acquitted.

 

In discharging this onerous burden, four witnesses testified for the prosecution. PW1, Renold Boateng is the complainant. He testified that on 18/02/2014 at about 10:30pm he was in a room with his friend by name Alfred. The door was not locked. A1 entered the room and pointed a pistol at them and demanded money. A2 also entered the room and said if the occupants did not have money, they should give them their machines. PW1 said A2 collected his laptop and that of his friend as well as their mobile phones. A1 searched the pockets of PW1 and made away with an amount of GHS 44.00. Continuing, PW1 said between 9am and 10am the following day, he heard a radio announcement to the effect that A1 and A2 had been arrested and detained at the Sofoline Police Station so he went there and told the police that they had robbed him of his laptops and phones at gun point the previous night. The police interrogated the accused persons and they admitted the offence. PW1 further told the court that he identified the laptops and phones at the Police Station as well as the pistol which A1 had used to attack him. In cross-examination, the accused persons denied the attack but PW1 who said he took a good look at them was able to describe their apparel and they could not discredit that piece of evidence.

 

PW2, Alfred Owusu, said in his evidence that he was in the room with PW1 when the accused persons attacked them. He corroborated the evidence of PW1 as regards the respective roles played by the accused persons during the robbery. However, PW2 said he was not available in the morning so it was PW1 who went to the police station to identify the items and the accused persons upon hearing of their arrest on radio. He also said he cross-examination that he took a good look at the features of their attackers and could identify them.

 

One of the arresting officers was the forth prosecution witness (PW4). He gave a detailed account of how the accused persons were arrested. According to him, his team had been detailed for patrols that evening. Whilst on duty, they spotted the accused persons around the "Seven Seven" hotel, near Plaza hotel, Dechemso. On seeing the police vehicle, the accused persons took to their heels but the police managed to arrest A2. Continuing, PW4 said A1 jumped over a wall into a house but the police were able to arrest him on that premises. Upon interrogation, the accused persons told the police that they were out there to buy food to eat. When interrogated further as to why they took to their heels upon seeing the police vehicle, the accused persons could not give any satisfactory explanation. PW4 said a search was conducted on them and the police found a hotel room key on A1 with the inscription, Abidjan hotel. The police arrested them and led them to the said hotel. The accused persons took the police to a particular room where two modems, two laptops and a locally made pistol with two life cartridges were found. The witness said the accused persons and the found items were handed over to the Asawasi police station to be detained. Later, they were transferred to Suntreso Police Station for further investigations. In cross-examination, A1 failed to discredit the testimony of PW4. He suggested to PW4 that it was the police who planted the exhibits in the room but the witness stuck to his story that it was the accused persons who led the police to that particular room where the exhibits were found.

 

The original investigator, Detective Corporal Christian Arhin who started the investigations is said to be bedridden and hospitalized as a result of a motor accident. Thus, Detective Constable Ankrah Seyram who worked closely with him and could identify his signature tendered in evidence the investigation and charge cautioned statements which his predecessor took from the accused persons before the docket was sent to the Attorney General's Office, Kumasi, for advice. These statements are exhibits A, B, C and D. When the advice was received from the AG's office on 24/04/2015, the accused persons where charged as per the advice and they volunteered statements which PW3 tendered as exhibits F and G. The two HP Laptop computers which PW4 and his colleagues retrieved from the accused persons were admitted in evidence as exhibits H and H1. Finally, the audio and video CD's were admitted collectively as exhibit J and a peripheral device (mouse) was also marked as exhibit K. In cross-examination both accused persons denied leading the police to the hotel where these exhibits were retrieved but PW3 told the court that the entries in the station diary proved otherwise.

 

Even though the accused persons had admitted the offences in exhibits A, B, C, and D, they told the court that the statements were taken under duress and amid extreme beatings by the police. A2 said in his evidence that the previous investigator promised him a reward if he admitted the offence so that he could be used as a prosecution witness against A1 who was on the police wanted list. Thus, when they had another opportunity, the accused persons said they gave the statements evidenced by exhibits F and G in which they denied the charges against them.

 

Having introduced evidence to the effect that exhibits A, B, C and D were not voluntarily given and that a promise for a reward as regards A2 was made, the prosecution ought to have called the independent persons who witnessed the taking of the statements to testify but they failed to do so. I will therefore not use the contents of these statements against the accused persons.

 

That notwithstanding, there is abundant circumstantial evidence which the court can rely on. Both PW1 and PW2 were able to identify the accused persons; the accused persons on seeing a police vehicle took to their heels and were eventually arrested, a hotel room key was found on A1; the accused persons led the police to the said hotel room ( Abidjan Hotel room 19) where two HP laptop computers, modems, mobile phones, a locally made pistol, among others, were retrieved; PW1 and PW2 have identified these laptops as theirs which had been stolen the previous night; PW1 supplied the password to one of the laptops and when the computer was turned on in open court, his photograph appeared as the screen saver; and PW1 said the accused persons admitted the offence in his presence at the police station. It is also on record that PW1 and A1 knew each other prior to the robbery because they lived in the same neighbourhood. Thus, PW1's identification of A1 cannot be faulted. In relation to A2, both PW1 and PW2 said they saw him. PW4 has been emphatic that A1 and A2 were seen together at Dechemso. If A2 is innocent, why did he take to his heels upon seeing an oncoming police vehicle? Clearly, there is a nexus between the laptop computers and the accused persons.

 

In Logan v the Republic (2007-2008) SCGLR 76 at 78 the Supreme Court held:

 

“Circumstantial evidence relied on by the prosecution to support a conviction, must be inconsistent with the innocence of the accused. It must lead to irresistible conclusion not only that the crime charged had been committed, but it was in fact  committed by the persons charged in order to arrive at a definite conclusion. Conviction based on circumstantial evidence which is not supported by the facts is wrongful..."

 

On the totality of the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses in the instant case, i find that the two accused persons entered the room of PW1 and PW2 at Kronum in the night of 18/02/2014. I accept the prosecution's evidence that A1 pointed a gun at PW1 and PW2 whilst A2 collected their HP laptops, mobile phones and their accessories which were eventually retrieved from the accused persons hotel room at Dechemso. The circumstantial evidence is so overwhelming and lead to the irresistible conclusion that the accused persons are the perpetrators of the offences in respect of which they have been tried.

 

The evidence of the accused persons that they had gone out to buy noodles (Indomie) when the police conducted an operation leading to their arrest is certainly an afterthought given the facts established by the prosecution. A1's denial that he does not know A2 is an obvious lie! At best, their evidence can be described as an attempt to twist the facts around and try, in effect, to create a lie out of the truth! The accused persons have failed to raise any reasonable doubt as to their guilt.

 

The prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused persons acted together and succeeded in stealing PW1 and PW2's laptops, mobile phones and cash at gun point. They are found guilty of Conspiracy to rob and Robbery under Sections 23 (1) and 149 of Act 29 and are accordingly convicted.

 

SENTENCE

 

A2- RAFIU ADAMS

At the time the offences were committed, A2 was 17 years. Whilst in court, he gave his birth date as 26/06/1996. The offences were committed on 18/02/2014, that is, four months before his 18th birthday. For the purpose of sentencing, it is his age at the time the offences were committed which the court will rely on. In accordance with section 18 (1) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 Act 653, A2 is remitted to the Juvenile Court for sentencing. The Registrar of this court is to transmit to the registrar of the Juvenile Court, Ashtown, Kumasi, a certificate under section 18 (4) (b) of Act 653. In the interim, he is to be kept in police custody.

 

AI- PRINCE ADU GYAMFI

At the time the offence was committed, A1 was 20 years. Whilst under cross-examination, he admitted that he escaped from lawful custody when he had been detained on a murder charge in respect of which he is now serving a five year jail term. Obviously, he must have been over 18 years when the five year jail term was handed out to him. The offences were carefully planned and executed. Irrespective of his youthful age, it appears to me that he is a hardened criminal who must be kept away from society. It is my hope that whilst serving his sentence, he will reflect on his life and turn over a new leaf. It is indeed sad to see a young man of twenty years waste his life away! He committed the offence with the use of an offensive weapon i.e. a pistol. He put his victims in the sudden fear of death. Having looked at the Ghana Sentencing Guidelines, A1 is sentenced to 18 years imprisonment with hard labour on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently.

 

I also order that the two HP laptop computers (exhibits H and H1) and their accessories be handed over to their respective owners (PW1 and PW2).

 

ANGELINA MENSAH-HOMIAH (MRS.)

(JUSTICE OF THE HIGH COURT)

 

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