Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/engine/Drivers/mysql.php on line 101 THE STATE v. ANANI FIADZO | GhanaLegal - Resources for the legal brains

THE STATE v. ANANI FIADZO


  • appeal
  • 1961-06-26
  • SUPREME COURT
  • 1 GLR 416-419
  • Print

KORSAH, C.J., SARKODEE-ADOO AND AKIWUMI, JJ.S.C.


Summary

Criminal law?-Murder?-Presumptions drawn from circumstantial evidence must follow irresistibly from circumstances proved in evidence.

Headnotes

The conviction of the appellant for the murder of his son was based solely upon circumstantial evidence.

Judgement

APPEAL against conviction for murder by Simpson J. sitting with a jury in the High Court, Ho, on the 7th June, 1960. The facts are set out in the judgment of the Supreme Court.

JUDGMENT OF SARKODEE-ADOO, J.S.C.

The appellant, stood his trial at the Assizes held in the High Court at Ho on the 7th June 1960, for the murder of one Kofi Fiadzo at Whuti in the Trans-Volta Region on Sunday, the 24th May, 1959. The prosecution led evidence to the effect that the deceased was the younger of two sons of the appellant and early in the morning of the day in question, both children had gone to the house of a friend, one Dunya Kwaku, and were playing ?"sticks?" together under a tree when the appellant came and called the younger son away; this was the last time the friend and the elder brother Kwashie [p.417] saw him alive. Later that morning when the elder boy returned home the appellant took hold of him and started to beat him with a hoe stick; they were alone in the house. One Agbeviede, the appellant?'s uncle, who was in his farm nearby was attracted by the boy?'s shouts for help and in consequence raised an alarm when he came to the scene but the appellant had ran away; the boy who was seriously wounded on the back of his head and on his eyebrow was admitted to hospital, where he recovered.

In consequence of a report that the appellant and the deceased were missing, a search party set out on the following day (Monday) in search of the appellant and the deceased. In the course of the search the body of the deceased was discovered near the farm of the appellant?-about 20 yards away. The body was lying on the ground covered with cut grass with the feet exposed. Round about there was grass growing and the body was lying near a well. The appellant was not found during the search. The discovery was reported to the police who later came to the spot and removed the body.

The appellant was arrested by the police three days later on his way from the bush to Anlo town and was found with a fresh cut on his throat. He was admitted to hospital and was discharged on the 10th June, 1959. In the investigation statement taken from him on caution on the day of his arrest he stated as follows:

?"On Sunday 24-5-59 at about 8 a.m. I called the deceased Kofi Fiadzo my own son who was then playing with his elder brother and 2 other boys to lead me to farm which was at the outskirt of Whuti town. After having bathed him I left him at the gate between the town and surrounding farms. I did not see him any more. In the house his elder brother Kwasi Fianzdo whom I previously warned to go to church felt reluctant to go. I became annoyed and beat him with a cudgel. After thinking of the seriousness of the wound inflicted on him during the beating I regretted. I then went to the bush and attempted to commit suicide by cutting my throat with a knife. I cannot remember where I left the knife.?"

When, upon his discharge from hospital, he was formally charged with the murder of the deceased he made a statement on caution thus:

?"I cannot remember what happened on the day in question. I remember having beaten my elder son Kwashie but I do not know what made me to beat him. I remember having ran into the bush but I do not know what caused that.?"

The appellant in his evidence at the trial denied the contents of his investigation statement (exhibit B) or ever mentioning the name of Kofi Fiadjo (the deceased) in his said statement, but admitted beating the elder son Kwashie with a hoe stick (exhibit D); and also said in the course of his evidence:

?"I bathed Kofi that morning?-in the house. I did not bathe Kwashie. I saw him take a bath in the farm at the well.

It is correct that I regretted beating Kwashie. After thinking of the seriousness of the wound inflicted on him I regretted it.

I did not go to commit suicide. I cut my throat because I regretted killing Kwashie. I did not cut my throat. I had a wound in my throat. It was cut by a knife. I was holding the knife. It was because of P.W. 4 who was wounded. That is why I had my wound?-That was the reason for using the knife on myself. I was not trying to end my life. It did not occur to me to cut my finger. I was not trying to do anything. It would be correct to say I was trying to commit suicide. I cannot tell if people [p.418] commit suicide. I cannot tell if people commit suicide because of small injuries inflicted by them on others.?"

The medical officer?'s evidence is conclusive that the injuries he found on the deceased were similar in nature to those found on Kwashie and caused by the hoe stick (exhibit D). His evidence of the post mortem examination performed on the 26th May, 1959, was that death had occurred approximately 72 hours previously and continued as follows:

?"The body was maggot infested and in a state of putrifaction. There were no cuts or abrasions. On internal examination, findings were?-head?-lineal fracture through the frontal bone and similar fracture through basic occipital bone extending to the parictal bone on the right-side. Fragments of brain were seen extending through the fracture. The neck, thorax, abdomen?-limbs?-no abnormalities i.e. on broken bones or damage to the tissues. Cause of death in my opinion due to brain damage due to fractured skull caused by heavy blows on the head by a hard blunt object. I am aware that accused was admitted to hospital at Keta on 27-5-59. He had bodily injuries caused in my opinion with a knife. They were consistent with an attempt to commit suicide.?"

The evidence against the appellant is circumstantial, that is, there is no evidence by an eyewitness that the appellant struck the heavy blows which fractured the skull of the deceased and caused his death.

Presumptive or circumstantial evidence is quite usual, as it is rare to prove an offence by evidence of eye-witnesses, and inferences from the facts proved may prove the guilt of the appellant. A presumption from circumstantial evidence should be drawn against the appellant only when that presumption follows irresistibly from the circumstances proved in evidence; and in order to justify the inference of guilt the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the appellant, and incapable of explanation upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of guilt. A conviction must not be based on probabilities or mere suspicion.

Although there was no direct evidence, there was nevertheless a mass of circumstantial evidence from which the fact could be inferred that the appellant killed the deceased; the facts in this case point to that conclusion only.

In the case of R. v. Onufrejczyk1, Goddard C.J. adopted the statement of law made in R. v. Horry2, that on a charge of murder,

?"the fact of death is provable by circumstantial evidence, notwithstanding that neither the body nor any trace of the body has been found and that the accused has made no confession of any participation in the crime. Before he [the accused] can be convicted, the fact of death should be proved by such circumstances as render the commission of the crime morally certain and leave no ground for reasonable doubt: the circumstantial evidence should be so cogent and compelling as to convince a jury that upon no rational hypothesis other than murder can the facts be accounted for.?"

In R. v. Davidson3, there was a conviction for murder, although no trace of the body of the boy alleged to have been murdered had been found, and the Court of Criminal Appeal affirmed the conviction; but [p.419] in that case the prisoner had prior to the trial made a confession that he had killed the boy, and sought at the trial to retract that confession.

In the present case not only was the body of the deceased found about 25 yards away from the appellant?'s farm but also his activities on the day of the murder were certainly remarkable and pointed conclusively to his complicity in the fracture and head wounds which caused the death of the boy. There is very strong evidence connecting the appellant with the murder; he was the last person seen with the son alive; his inconsistent statements to the police and his evidence at the trial to explain away his whereabouts; the similarity of the nature of the wounds found on his elder son Kwashie and the deceased; his attempt to commit suicide; and the fact that the cause of death was due to heavy blows on the head by a hard blunt object like the hoe stick used on Kwashie.

We are of the opinion that such circumstantial evidence as there is in this case is so strong as to point to guilt; we are also satisfied that it is not only consistent with the appellant?'s guilt but also inconsistent with any other rational conclusion. The jury had been adequately directed and we think that the conviction is amply supported by the evidence. In the result we dismiss the appeal.

Decision

<P>Appeal dismissed.</P>

Plaintiff / Appellant

J. C. Armah

Defendant / Respondent

K. Dua Sakyi

Referals

(1) R. v. Onufrejczyk [1955] 1 Q.B. 388; [1955] 1 All E.R. 247; 39 Cr. App. R. 203, C.C.A.

(2) R. v. Horry [1952] N.Z.L.R. 111

(3) R. v. Davidson (1934) 25 Cr. App. R. 21 C.C.A.

Warning: fopen(/home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/cases/public/cache/4580d518d097d528216f21a7426ae0d4): failed to open stream: Permission denied in /home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/cases/apps/modules/render/models/cache.php on line 44 Warning: fwrite() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/cases/apps/modules/render/models/cache.php on line 46 Warning: fclose() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /home/ghanalegal/domains/ghanalegal.com/public_html/cases/apps/modules/render/models/cache.php on line 48