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THE STATE v. NIMOH


  • appeal
  • 1969-10-21
  • SUPREME COURT
  • GLR 203-205
  • Print

VAN LARE, GRANVILLE SHARP AND SARKODEE-ADOO, JJ.S.C.


Summary

Criminal Law?-Murder?-Provocation?-Criminal Code, Cap. 9 ss. 250 and 251 (3).

Headnotes

The appellant was convicted of the murder of his wife. At his trial he gave evidence that he had cause to believe that his wife had been associating with other men and he had warned her. On the eventful day (appellant said) there was a quarrel between them in the yard of their house. Words passed and the deceased told appellant that she was not a fool to disclose her private dealings with other men, and the appellant called her a prostitute and rogue. Probably a scuffle ensued during which the appellant was thrown to the ground. The appellant, according to him, became so angry that he rushed into a room, fetched a gun and shot his wife.

Judgement

APPEAL against a conviction for murder by Crabbe J. sitting with assessors, on June 16, 1960, at Kumasi Assizes.

JUDGMENT OF VAN LARE J.S.C.

Van Lare, J.S.C. delivered the judgment of the court. The appellant was convicted upon the charge of murder and sentenced to death before Crabbe, J., sitting at the Assizes holden at Kumasi on the 16th June [p.204] this year. The deceased was the appellant's wife and there is no denial that the killing was the act of the prisoner who according to his own testimony at his trial that after a quarrel, consisting of exchange of abuses and, as may be inferred from the evidence, followed by a fight, he became very angry and entered his room whence he fetched a gun which he fired at his wife thereby causing her death. The actual killing took place in the yard of the house where both the appellant and the deceased lived. There was no eye-witness of the events immediately preceding the killing, but upon the report of a gun-shot a witness who happened to be only a few yards away and heard the deceased scream rushed into the house. The deceased was seen lying in a pool of blood on the ground and the appellant standing not far away from the dead body. When asked what he had done the appellant said "the damage has already been done." Following the usual practice of the village an alarm was raised. Others went to the house and the appellant was tied up and surrendered to the police.

Both in his caution statement to the police and at his trial the appellant explained the reasons for his murderous act. He had cause to believe that the wife had been associating with other men and he had warned her. On the eventful day, following a little misunderstanding between them, the deceased told the appellant that she would continue in her illicit dealings with other men. She referred to the appellant as an ugly person and not fit to be her husband. During the quarrel she told the appellant that she was not a fool to disclose her private dealings with other men. The appellant called the wife a prostitute and a rogue and most probably a scuffle ensued during which the appellant was thrown to the ground. As already indicated the incident took place in the yard. But the appellant, according to him, became so angry that he rushed into his room and fetched the gun. He came out and shot at the wife.

The defence was one of provocation. The learned trial judge adequately summed up to the assessors and as it appears in his judgment on the question of provocation which rightly in our view was rejected. We were unable to find that the circumstances amount to such extreme provocation as the law requires to be likely to deprive a person of ordinary character of the power of self-control to enable the offence to be reduced to one of manslaughter. The law does not take notice of any peculiar temperament or excitability of a person. If a person allows himself to be heated up in a quarrel with another and becomes so angry that he kills that person, he is not thereby exempted from responsibility. On the evidence as a whole we find that it was not that the appellant was in any way provoked but that he became so angry with his wife when he fetched the gun and killed her. Even assuming that there was some provocation, we may here repeat that the whole doctrine relating to provocation depends on the fact that it causes or may cause a sudden or temporary loss of self-control whereby the formation of an intention to kill or to inflict grievous bodily harm is negatived. Consequently even if in circumstances such as the present the provocation inspires an actual intention to kill or inflict a grievous bodily harm, the doctrine that such provocation may reduce murder to manslaughter seldom applies. Only [p.205] one very special class of exceptions has been recognised, namely, in the words of section 251 (3) of our Criminal Code,

"An act of adultery committed in the view of the accused person with or by his wife or her husband, or the crime of unnatural carnal knowledge committed in his or her view upon his or her wife, husband, or child.?"

This has always been treated as an exception to the general rule, but it has been laid down that the exception cannot be extended. A sudden confession of adultery by either spouse without more, such as the admission by the deceased in this case of adulterous intimacy with other men can never constitute provocation of a sort which might reduce murder to manslaughter, see Regina v. Grunshie [1960] G.L.R. 56.

In the result we dismissed the appeal.

Decision

<P>Appeal dismissed.</P>

Plaintiff / Appellant

Tamakloe

Defendant / Respondent

Amissah

Referals

Regina v. Grunshie [1960] G.L.R 56.

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