The State vs Milton Sowa ([node:field-casenumber]) [2018] SLHC 1254 (12 July 2018);











At the Criminal Session of the High Court holden at Freetown on the 301h day of January 2017, State Counsel on behalf of the State informed the Court that MILTON SOWA was charged with the following offence:


Statement of Offence: House - Breaking and Larceny contrary to Section 26{ 1I of the Larceny Act  191 6.


Allegation: the allegation is that  the  accused  person, Milton Sowa  on  the  25th day of May 2016 at Freetown in the Western  Area  of  the  Republic  of  Sierra Leone,  broke and entered  into the dwelling  place  of the Complainant with intent to steal and stole therein in the said dwelling house one black Samsung 21 inches Plasma television.


Plea: on the 22nd day of March 2017, the above mentioned charge was put to the Accused Person to which he pleaded Not Guilty to the  offence.


Burden and Standard of Proof: The burden of proof is on  the  Prosecution  to prove the guilt of the Accused  beyond reasonable doubt; Woolmington v Director of Public Prosecution [l 9351 AC  462.


The Prosecution called three (31 formal witnesses and the Complainant. Except for the Complainant who testified that  he saw the  Accused jump the fence of  the said dwelling house holding on to the television stand; and when he called out the name of the Accused he dropped the television stand: none  of  the formal witnesses proved to the Court that the break into the dwelling house was caused by the Accused. The Investigating Officer at the scene did not testify whether the padlock that was found at the scene, had any fingerprint evidence pointing to the  Accused.


Defence: the Accused Person was put to an election and he chose to rely on the Voluntary Caution Statement he made to the Police. In his statement to the Police, he said that he did not break into the dwelling house of the complainant. He said he met the door to the house wide open; and that he entered into it because it was a house that he visited regularly to assist the Complainant with his domestic chores. He however admitted to taking away the Plasma television and on the same vein said that he returned it.


Decision  of the Court


From the evidence adduced in Court by  the Prosecution,  some  of  the elements of the offence of House - breaking and Larceny contrary to section 26(1) of the Larceny Act l 9 l 6 are not proven. There was no proof  that it was  the Accused that broke into the house. There was no form of evidence, such as fingerprint evidence on the door to the house or on the padlock to link the Accused to the crime. This in itself raises some doubt on the evidence adduced by  the Prosecution in respect of the break into the  house.


However, from the voluntary caution statement made by the  Accused,  he admitted to taking the Plasma television but that he did not break  into  the dwelling house; which proves the elements  of larceny, that is, "stealing  without  the consent of the owner, fraudulently and without  a  claim  of  right  made  in good faith, takes and carries away the time of such taking, permanently  to deprive  the owner thereof......" section  l  ( 1)  of  the Larceny  Act   l 916. From these facts, it is clear that the actus reus and mens rea were committed.


From the aforesaid statement to the Police, it is clear  that  it is  a  confession: which the Court in R v White fl 8231 R & R 508 held that " a free and voluntary confession of guilt by a prisoner whether under examination before the Magistrate or otherwise, if it is direct and positive and is duly  made  and satisfactorily proved, is sufficient to warrant a conviction without any corroborative   evidence."


In concluding, having taken into consideration the evidence and the  facts before the Court, the Prosecution has failed to prove an element of the offence charged: which raises some doubt  on its case. This aspect  of  doubt  created in the Prosecution's case, ought to favour the Accused; OPP  v  Woolmington (supra). However, given that the Accused in his voluntary caution  statement  to the Police, admitted taking the Plasma television, he cannot be said to  be  innocent  of Larceny.


Verdict: my  verdict  therefore,  is  tnat  Milton  Sowa  is  guilty  of  the  offence  of Larceny contrary to section l { 11 of the Larceny Act of 1916 and not guilty of  the  offence of House-Breaking and  Larceny  contrary  to  section  26  {11 of  the  Larceny Act  of 1916.


Sentencing Remarks: Taking into consideration the value of the property involved; and taking into account the Accused Person's  state  of  health and  the fact that he has been incarcerated  for  two years;  I  consider  the  Accused  to have spent his sentence and is therefore discharged henceforth. He is  discharged on condition that he keeps the peace, seek and attain gainful employment or skills training; and that he does not interfere with any witness or people  connected  with  this  matter.


Hon. Justice F. Bintu Alhadi Judge  of the High Court.