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Court discharges former Achimota Student jailed for manslaughter

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A High Court in Accra on Monday discharged a former student of Achimota Senior High School who shot and killed his female colleague with his father’s rifle in Tema last year.

This was after the court, presided over by Mr Justice Kofi Dorgu granted an order of certiorari filed on behalf of the convicted minor.

On September 22, last year a juvenile court presided over by Mr Benardine S. Sonoo found the minor guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to three years imprisonment, which he was to spend in a Senior Correctional Home in Accra.

Not satisfied with the conviction by the Juvenile Court, an order of Certiorari and Judicial Review was filed on his behalf at the Criminal Division of the High Court.

According to his lawyer, the lower court erred when it convicted the accused after neglecting a social inquiry report on the minor convict before passing sentence.

According to the defence lawyer the breach of the social inquiry report which goes into the root of the court’s authority constituted a miscarriage of justice.

 He further submitted that the trial court exceeded the six month period within which the trial should had lasted, arguing that the minor convict was tried in March last year after he had been before a District Court.

Under the Juvenile Act a minor is to be tried within a six-month duration and on expiration of the duration of the six-month, the minor could be discharged and could not be brought before court on the same charge.

The State opposed to the order of certiorari and judicial review indicating that the applicant should have rather filed an Appeal.

The Court in its ruling held that the trial judge erred when it neglected the social inquiry report before handing down the sentence on the minor.

According to the court, the breach of the report constituted a miscarriage of justice and granted the order of certiorari.

It noted that there was no dispute by all the parties about the duration of the trial, which commenced in March to September last year. This, the court noted that, breached the Juvenile Justice Act.

“This means that the accused be discharged from prison forth with,” the Court declared.

The convicted minor, then aged 17, is said to have gone for his father’s gun under his bed with the intent of firing into the air, but ended up killing his friend, Lilly Asigbetse, a third year student of Achimota School.

On January 4, last year, at about 14:00hours, the deceased, who lived at Cantonments, visited the minor convict at Community 8 in Tema. While there, the minor convict went to his father’s room, and picked up his single barrelled gun, and shot the victim in the abdomen.

When questioned, the accused told the police that he had intended shooting into the air, but the bullets hit the deceased.

Madam Gifty Billy, a neighbour, who heard the gunshot and went to the scene only to see the victim lying in a pool of blood.

Ms Billy said she rushed the deceased to the Port Clinic at Tema. However, due to the condition of the victim, she was transferred to the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, where she died on admission.

Source: GNA

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