Father Of 11 Charged For Manslaughter; Says He Mistook Deceased For Animal6 min read
A 63-year-old farmer at Akim Asuboa near Akim Oda has pleaded not guilty to the charge of manslaughter but told police investigators that he shot at the deceased by mistake.
Though, the accused (a tailor) initially denied knowledge about the death of Prince Kwabena Kumi, a 36-year-old Aeronautic Engineer, said he “later admitted shooting him by mistake, thinking it was an animal.”
Joseph Kwesi Effah, a father of 11, is facing a jury trial for the incident that occurred in March 2018.
“The accused in his earlier statements to the police during preliminary investigations, initially denied any knowledge about the death of the deceased but later admitted shooting him by mistake, thinking it was an animal,” Principal State Attorney, Mrs Sefakor Batse tells the jury.
Mrs Batse, the PSA, in her opening address to the seven member jury panel prior to the commencement of the trial, per the facts, the accused Joseph Kwesi Effah, is a resident of Akim Asuboa near Akim Oda.
Whilst, Prince Kwabena Kumi (now deceased) was a 36 year old aeronautic Engineer who worked with Africa World Airlines in Accra.
She said, on March 31, 2018, the deceased left Accra to visit his mother Comfort Nkansah Kumi at Akim Asuboa in his Honda CRV vehicle with registration Number GE 7809- 14.
The PSA said, when he (the deceased) reached Akim the deceased took his vehicle to a washing bay and joined some of the washing bay attendants at a nearby drinking spot to take some alcohol.
She added that, the deceased was later spotted at the Akim Akroso Lorry Station, “very intoxicated, with his car parked in the middle of the road.”
The PSA said, the Akroso police intervened by impounding his vehicle and putting him on board a passenger bus enroute to Akim Oda.
“An arrangement was made for one Benedicta Buruwaa, a trader to meet the deceased on his arrival in order to escort him to his mother’s house due to his drunken state.
“This arranged meeting did not materialise because Benedicta never met him at the agreed drop off point as he had already been dropped off by the driver before she got there and she proceeded home to sleep,” she told the jury.
It was the case of the State Prosecutor to the jury that, the deceased was spotted by some witnesses one of whom confirmed that he was heavily drunk when they saw him but no effort was made to stop him.
“The deceased however never got home so his relatives lodged a complaint at the Akim Oda Police station,” the PSA stated.
Mrs. Batse told the jury that, on April 3, 2018, “a search party found the body of Prince Kwabena Kumi (the deceased) in a state of decomposition in the bush along the Asuboa-Akroso road.”
The PSA stated that, upon investigation it was revealed the accused was a member of the Akim Asuboa ‘Neighbourhood Watch Committee’ and on March 31, 2018, he was on duty at about 10:00pm together with one Daniel Kwabena Akwaah, also a farmer and a member of the same Neighbourhood Watch Committee.
Snoring sound in bush
She said, in the course of the patrol, “they both heard a snoring sound in the bush and suspected it to be a pig.”
According to the PSA, the accused, who was holding a locally manufactured gun, “went closer towards the sound and fired in that direction without checking exactly what or who he was firing at.”
“It was only when they got to the exact spot where he fired that he realized he had shot a human being.
“They however left together without offering any assistance or even reporting the matter to the police,” she told the jury.
Mrs Batse said, “the body of the person shot at was discovered days later in a state of decomposition and it was identified as that of Prince Kwabena Kumi”
Cause of death
The PSA told the jury that, the pathologist, after post mortem examination, “gave the cause of death as haemorrhagic shock, severe jaw and chest injuries and gunshot at intermediate range.”
“Investigations led to the arrest of the accused and other suspects and the retrieval of three locally manufactured single barrel guns from members of the neighbourhood watch committee including that of the accused person which were forwarded to the forensic laboratory for ballistic examination together with the pellets retrieved from the body of the deceased during autopsy.
“The ballistic report was conclusive that the pellets retrieved from the body of the deceased could have been discharged from any of the guns retrieved from them including that of the accused,” the Prosecutor told the jury.
She stated that, the report also concluded that the shot guns which included that of the accused are lethal and capable of inflicting fatal wounds.
Mistaken for animal
She said, the accused in his earlier statements to the police during preliminary investigations, “initially denied any knowledge about the death of the deceased but later admitted shooting him by mistake, thinking it was an animal.”
“He however admitted failing to offer any assistance even though he realized it was a human being he had shot.
He stated that he failed to report the incident out of fear and did not intend to kill Prince Kwabena Kumi.
She said, “the accused was therefore charged with the offence of manslaughter contrary to section 50 of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) and brought before this Honourable Court for trial.”
For their part, the defence lawyers also told the jury that, their 63 years old client is a “Very respectable person in the neighborhood and that he joined the neighborhood for the sake of doing good in the society.
They submitted that, their client is a “responsible respectable man with a family of 11 children.”
Counsel said, the accused had no intention or knowledge of the incident until his arrest and was informed of the incident.
He urged the jury to discharge their duties with due diligence.
Justice Lydia Osei Marfo, the trial judge, in her address to the jury reminded them of the “constitutional duties imposed” on them as they discharge their duties.
“You are required by law to be part of this trial as trial judges of the facts in this matter. You are supposed to pay attention to the evidence that would be produce by the prosecution against the accused person heron.
“This means that, you are to listen to the various oral evidence given by the witnesses they would give, the exhibits that maybe tendered during the trial, Statements, admission etc brought before you in the course of this trial,” the Court charged them.
The case has been adjourned to November 16 for pre trial hearing.