A 16-year-old pupil has informed the Sexual Offences Model Court presided over by Court of Appeal Judge, Hon. Justice Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens that she was threatened with a knife by one Abu Bakarr Sannoh, a 20-year-old University student, who later forcefully removed her school uniform and sexually abused her.
The accused Abu Bakarr Sannoh, was before the Court on one count of Sexual Penetration contrary to Section 19 of the Sexual Offences Act No. 12 of 2012 as repealed and replaced by Section 4(a)(iii) of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act No. 8 of 2019.
It was alleged that the accused Abu Bakar Sannoh, on dates unknown between the 13th and 17th November 2021 in Freetown, Western Area of the Republic of Sierra Leone, engaged in an act of sexual penetration with a child aged sixteen.
The accused pleaded not guilty. The Prosecution filed a trial by a Judge alone application instead of a Judge and Jury in accordance with Section 144(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act No. 32 of 1965 as repealed and replaced by Section 3 of the Criminal Procedure (amendment) Act No.11 of 1981. Justice Stevens granted the application for the Accused to be tried by a Judge alone instead of a Judge and Jury, a process the Prosecution believes would expedite justice delivery and fairness. In support of their case, the Prosecution called three Witnesses.
In her testimony, the victim identified the accused as a neighbour, stating that she was coming from school when she came across the accused in the neighbourhood who forcefully dragged her into his room, removed her school uniform, pulled out a knife and threatened to kill her. The accused laid her on the bed and penetrated his penis into her vagina. The Victim said she saw blood coming out of her vagina adding that, she also saw a stain of blood on the penis of the accused. The victim went home and did not reveal her ordeal to her parents.
According to the Victim, her parents knew about the incident through a mobile phone communication the Victim was having with the Accused.
During Cross Examination, the victim disclosed that the knife the accused used to threaten to kill her was inside the very room the accused penetrated her vagina with his penis.
The matter was reported to the Police according to the Second Prosecution Witness and the Police issued a Medical Request Form.
The Victim thereafter went to the Rainbow Centre where she was examined and treated. The Endorsed Medical Report was tendered which corroborated that the vagina of the Victim has been penetrated and hymen completely raptured.
The accused was cautioned by the Police and he made a Voluntary Caution Statement and in same, the accused confessed that the allegation made against him of having penetrated his penis into the vagina of the Victim is ‘true’. At the commencement of the Defence case, the accused had no witness and he relied on his Statement made to the Police.
In his address, the presiding Judge said, “the Law in question is very simple as I see it. The accused was in a relation with the Victim. But according to the Sexual Offences Act 2012 as amended by the Sexual Offences Act of 2019, a child is defined as a person who is under eighteen years of age. The Victim is Sixteen years old. The issue of consent before sex does not apply because the Victim is below eighteen Years, and the accused cannot even plead consent because of the age of the victim.”
Justice Stevens furthered to say that on the issue of Confessional Statement, “I hold the legal position that once an accused has made such a statement without coercion, intimidation or threat of being suffered harm, the said the statement is admissible under the Laws of Sierra Leone.”
“I hold that the accused is guilty for the offence indicted,” the Judge said, reiterating that, “I therefore found the accused guilty for the Offence of Sexual Penetration contrary to Section 4(a)(iii) of the Sexual Offences Act 2019 as amended as the prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt”.
In his allocutus, the accused asked for mercy. Justice Stevens therefore, on 17th January 2023, sentenced convict, Abu Bakarr to ten years imprisonment for penetrating the vagina of a victim with his penis who was sixteen years of age at the time of the commission of the offence.