December 7, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
High Court Judge, Hon. Justice Miatta Maria Samba, who has been hearing and determining sexual penetration matters, on Monday noted that the absence or lack of forensic evidence was still a challenge to prove the guilt of perpetrators of sexual offences.
She made the above observation after she acquitted and discharged one John Koroma, who had been charged with penetrating a 12-year-old girl in Freetown in 2014.
The accused was before the court on a count’s charge of sexual penetration, contrary to Section 19 of the Sexual Offences Act of 2012.
State Prosecutor A.G.M. Bockarie had alleged that the accused on 7 July, 2014 penetrated a child under the age of 18, to wit 12, although the accused denied the charge.
To prove their case, the prosecution summoned four witnesses and produced four exhibits in court.
Whilst reading her judgment, Justice Samba said the prosecution had a duty to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction on the offence charged.
The judge noted that she was mindful of the fact that an accused is entitled to an acquittal if there was no direct or circumstantial evidence to establish his guilt, and that she was also aware that any iota of doubt must be in favour of the accused person.
The judge said that there was no direct corroboration in respect of whether it was the accused himself who sexually penetrated the victim, as the alleged incident happened in a dark room.
She said the voluntary caution statement of the accused was a complete denial of the allegation against him.
The judge referred to the testimony of prosecution witness No.3, Fatamata Sillah, who said under cross-examination that she could not ‘definitely’ ascertain whether it was the accused who sexually penetrated the victim.
She noted that none of the prosecution witnesses in any way corroborated the allegation that the accused was the one who sexually penetrated the victim.
“The evidence before this court is that of the accused person’s words against that of the victim, with no corroboration as to who the perpetrator was. I have advised myself that any doubt must be resolved in favour of the accused person. It is my view that this accused is not guilty of the offence of sexual penetration. I therefore acquit and discharge him,” she ruled.