Man loses bid to upturn conviction over child defilement
A court of Appeal in Lagos has dismissed an appeal filed by one Onuoha James challenging his conviction by Justice A.An Akintoye of the Lagos high court for defiling a teenager.
The appellant (James) was charged with defilement, contrary to Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011 at the lower court.
At the end of the trial, the accused was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
In pronouncing her judgment, the judge said: “I have listened to the plea of allocates (mercy) made by learned counsel to the defendant and have also taken into consideration that he is a first time offender. However, I find it so difficult and sad to believe that a grown man would take any pleasure from defiling a child.
“This must stop in our society and all over the world for that matter. Children must be allowed to be children, let them enjoy their childhood. I hereby sentence you Onuoha Ikenna James to 15 years imprisonment. The said imprisonment is to start from today June 1, 2020. This is the judgment of this Court.”
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the appellant exercising his constitutional right of an appeal filed 16 grounds of appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos challenging his conviction.
He argued that the judgment of the lower court is unreasonable, perverse, unwarranted and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence before it.
The appellant among others argued that the trial judge erred in law by justifying the evidence of a purported medical report emanating from a medical examination of an alleged victim of defilement carried out eight days after the alleged defilement.
“The learned trial Judge erred in law when she assumed jurisdiction to try a matter instituted by and prosecuted in the name of a non-juristic personality and its decision, conviction and sentencing is accordingly a nullity,” he argued.
But Justice Ebiowei Tobi in his lead judgment found the appeal unmeritorious and upheld the judgment of the lower court.
His words: “There is enough evidence as held by the lower court that corroborate circumstantially the evidence of PW1 (the victim) that she was defiled by the appellant. From all the evidence at the lower court, the testimony of the PW1 cannot be said not to have been corroborated as the records show that PW1 was actually defiled by the appellant. In the circumstance, I cannot see my way clear to deviate from the finding of the lower court. It is safe therefore to conclude that the respondent was able to prove the offence of defilement against the appellant.”
The Justice frowned at the act of defiling minors by the elderly ones. “It is really sad that the appellant who has a good job and in a class far more than the PW1 and PW3 (victim’s uncle) could engage in such an act that is a societal evil. Self-control is a virtue, which the appellant lacked.
“This attitude should not be condoned in any way by any court. The Appellant should pay dearly for such not just immoral act but devilish and satanic act. The PW1 has been made to experience such an act, which but for God’s grace will be a scar in her life.
“The courts should send a strong-worded message discouraging such an act. I must however quickly add a caveat that though the society and the court frown at this kind of act, in convicting a person, a court should not be sentimental. I make bold to say that the decision of the lower court and indeed this court is not based on sentiment.”
“In the light of the foregoing, I find that this appeal is unmeritorious and the same is hereby dismissed. The decision of the lower court per Hon. Justice A.A. Akintoye (Mrs) of the Lagos Division of the High Court of Lagos State delivered in Charge No. LD/2405c/2016 – The state of Lagos vs. Onuoha James on 1/6/2020 is hereby upheld and affirmed,” he declared.
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