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THE STATE v. KWADJO OFORI


  • appeal
  • 1961-03-17
  • SUPREME COURT
  • GLR 162-164
  • Print

VAN LARE, SARKODEE-ADOO AND AKIWUMI, JJ.S.C.


Summary

Criminal law?-Murder?-Provocation?-Allegation by appellant that wife had confessed to adultery.

Headnotes

The appellant suspected his wife, the deceased, of adultery. On the fatal day, when his wife and her mother were going to the farm, the appellant suddenly appeared, armed with a cutlass and attacked his wife, who died later the same day from the injuries sustained.In his defence, the appellant alleged that his deceased wife had confessed to adultery and had slapped him. In this he was disbelieved by the trial judge, who convicted him for murder.

Judgement

APPEAL against conviction for murder, by Apaloo, J., sitting with assessors in the High Court, Kumasi, on the 10th November, 1960.

JUDGMENT OF VAN LARE, J.S.C.

Van Lare JSC delivered the judgment of the court. The evidence including that of the appellant himself is overwhelming in support of the learned trial judge's finding that the appellant attacked his wife in a most savage way and literally butchered her to death because he was uncontrollably jealous and suspected his wife of having committed adultery with one Kwabena Awortwi. For some time previously, the appellant had been under the impression that the deceased, his wife, had been illicitly associating with the man Kwabena Awortwi, a relative who had been staying in the same house with the deceased and her parents. On the morning of the [p.163] fatal day the deceased and her mother were going to the farm, and, not far away from the house, the appellant suddenly appeared, armed with a cutlass and attacked the deceased. The appellant had on the previous evening quarrelled with the deceased, and appeared so angry that he had to be taken home by his wife?'s father. On the way to the village according to the evidence, there had been no discussion between the deceased and her mother concerning the appellant, whose name was not even mentioned before his sudden appearance; and the evidence is that without any excuse of any kind, such as the exchange of words or a quarrel, or the deceased even being aware of the appellant?'s presence, she was suddenly attacked by him and slashed in several places with a cutlass. In his cautioned statement to the police which he admitted making, he, however, stated that on the fatal morning he was himself going to his farm when he overheard his deceased wife and her mother discussing him, and he became annoyed. The statement continued as follows:

?"What annoyed me most was that my mother-in-law told my wife that if she was not successful to divorce my wife from me she would let somebody have sexual intercourse with my wife. She went on to say that if my wife?'s daughter was grown enough she would let my wife go to Kwabena Awortwi to have sexual connection with her. After this talk I appeared before them. I told them that I have heard all what they said and that I have seen that the mother-in-law was not in my favour and that if I went to the house to tell the elders what I have heard I would not be believed and so I have finished entirely with the woman. I at once attacked her with my cutlass and I inflicted some wounds on her. Whilst I was inflicting the cutlass wounds on my wife I told my mother-in-law that I was not attacking her with my cutlass because she would take care of my daughter. But whilst I was on her the mother-in-law took to her heels and went away. I ran away to the bush looking for Kwabena Awortwi. I was looking for him to kill him also because it was through him the trouble came. I went to his farm for seven days and I never saw him. As I could not get him I intended going to Bekwai Police Station to make a report. On the way I had a lorry to Bekwai and as soon as I joined the lorry the passengers said they have arrested me. Nobody arrested me. I joined the lorry to Bekwai Police Station.?"

This is a damaging piece of evidence on a charge of murder in a trial against the appellant for killing his wife who died later the same day in hospital from the injuries so sustained. The trial came before Apaloo J., sitting with the aid of assessors at the High Court, Kumasi, on the 10th November, 1960, when the appellant in his evidence on oath appeared to have substantially reiterated the statement he had earlier made to the police but added that when he approached and talked to deceased she slapped him on the face in addition to confessing that she had in fact had sexual intercourse with Kwabena Awortwi.

The learned trial judge adequately dealt with the question of provocation both in his summing-up and in his judgment. The assessors by their unanimous verdicts of guilty of murder rejected the plea of provocation as might reduce the killing to manslaughter. The learned judge found that the deceased did not slap the appellant as alleged by him, and with this finding we have no ground for interfering. According to the law of this country, even if the prisoner?'s evidence that his deceased wife had made a sudden confession of adultery by her with Awortwi were believed, that would not amount to such extreme provocation as would reduce [p.164] the offence to one of manslaughter; it would have been otherwise if the adultery as alleged had been in view of the prisoner: see the judgment of this court in Regina v. Grunshie.

In the circumstances we have no alternative but to hold that the learned trial judge came to the correct conclusion both on the facts and the law when he found that it had been proved that the prisoner on the 3rd day of August, 1960, at Denyasefokrom intentionally caused the death of his wife Afua Asantewa by unlawful harm and that he did so without provocation.

We also share the learned trial judge's opinion that the prisoner has no valid defence.

Decision

<P>Appeal dismissed.</P>

Plaintiff / Appellant

J. C. Armah

Defendant / Respondent

K. Dua Sakyi

Referals

Regina v. Grunshie [1960] G.L.R. 56, C.A.

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