CASE SUMMARY OF:
Lekan Olaoye v. The State (2018) - SC
Beyond Reasonable Doubt;
LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Amiru Sanusi, J.S.C
LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
- Mr. F.A Dalley;
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
- Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour.
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The appellant herein who was the 1st accused person at the trial Court, was charged along with three other co-accused persons before the trial Court on offences of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, murder and receiving stolen goods, contrary to Sections 403A, 402(2) (A), 319(1) and 420 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Cap 32, Vol.2 Laws of Lagos State of 1994.
In proof of the cases, the prosecution (now respondent) called three witnesses and tendered eight (8) exhibits, while the 1st accused/appellant did not call any witness but testified on his behalf.
During the trial, the prosecution sought to tender a confessional statement which it alleged was voluntarily made by the accused/appellant but the defence objected to the admissibility of the said confessional statement on the ground that it was not made voluntarily by the accused/appellant. As is the law, the trial Court conducted trial within trial in order to determine the voluntariness of the said confessional statement. At the end of the mini-trial, the Court held that the statement was made voluntarily and admitted it in evidence and marked it as Exhibit H.
The trial thereafter proceeded in earnest and in the end the trial Court found or held that the prosecution/respondent had proved its cases beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant and the three other co-accused persons committed all the offences as charged and convicted them accordingly.
Miffed by the judgment of the trial Court, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal (the lower or Court below), albeit, without success.
Aggrieved by the judgment of the Court below affirming the conviction and sentence passed on him by the trial Court the appellant further appealed to this Court.
1. Whether the eminent justices of the Court of Appeal were right in holding admissible Exhibit H, the purported confessional statement of the appellant predominantly relied on in convicting the appellant of the charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, robbery and murder same having been established to have been obtained under duress?
2. Whether apart from the Exhibit "H", the prosecution led cogent and credible evidence in proof of the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt?
HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1. ISSUE 1 was resolved in favour of the respondent.
i. In this instant cases, the learned trial judge had duly complied with this rule and had conducted trial within trial' before he finally admitted the confessional statement of the accused/appellant in evidence as Exhibit H. Having ascertained the voluntariness of the extra-judicial statement of the accused/appellant, the trial Court in my view is duty bound to rely and act on the confessional statement (Exhibit H).
2. ISSUE 2 was resolved in favour of the respondent; the Supreme Court stated that the respondent proved its' cases beyond reasonable doubt.
S.28 Evidence Act 2011;
S.29 Evidence Act 2011;
S.251 Evidence Act 2011;
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The law is trite and well settled too, that where there is dispute on whether or not an accused person made the statement sought to be tendered made same voluntarily, it is the duty of the trial Court to try the voluntariness of such statement by conducting, a "trial within trial" otherwise known as mini trial'. - Amiru Sanusi, J.S.C. Lekan v. State (2018)
It also needs to be emphasised and it's also settled law too, that mere retraction of a voluntary confessional statement by an accused person, as in this instant cases, does not render such statement inadmissible or worthless or untrue in considering his guilt. - Amiru Sanusi, J.S.C. Lekan v. State (2018)
There are three modes of proof of criminal cases. These methods or modes of such proof are: (a) By testimonies of eye witness or witnesses who watched, heard or witnessed the commission of the crime by the accused person(s). (b) Through confessional statement voluntarily made by the accused. (c) Through circumstantial evidence which clearly points to the sole fact that the accused and no other person committed the offence charged. - Amiru Sanusi, J.S.C. Lekan v. State (2018)
It is well settled law, that free and voluntary confession of guilt alone by an accused person provided it is direct and positive and was duly made voluntarily, is sufficient to ground a conviction, since a confession always remains the best proof of what he had done. - Amiru Sanusi, J.S.C. Lekan v. State (2018)
It is pertinent to say that this Court has over the years evolved some requirements which a confessional statement must meet in order to be relied on by trial Courts. Some of these requirements include the followings: (i) It must contain the words of caution (ii) The cautionary words must have been administered in the language understood by the accused. (iii) The statement was duly signed or thumb printed by the accused. (iv) That the statement was recorded in the language understood by the accused person (v) That the statement was after being recorded read over and interpreted to the maker in the language it was recorded. - Amiru Sanusi, J.S.C. Lekan v. State (2018)
I must however state here, that a confessional statement which is made voluntarily and is direct, cogent, credible and positive, is enough to ground conviction even without corroboration of any sort. - Amiru Sanusi, J.S.C. Lekan v. State (2018)
However, any doubt in the prosecution's cases must be resolved in favour of the accused person. - Amiru Sanusi, J.S.C. Lekan v. State (2018)
The end of this brief.
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