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Child cruelty!

Mother to serve prison term with hard labour

June 22, 2017 By Regina Pratt

In the courtroom, Fatmata Sesay, a mother of two, clad in bright yellow cotton with a flip-flop on, was seemingly remorseful as she wept profusely after she pleaded guilty to one count charge of child cruelty and sentenced to 18 Months imprisonment with hard labour.

Hon. Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi presiding in the High Court of Sierra Leone handed down  judgment in the matter yesterday  (Wednesday June 21, 2017), after the accused has pleaded guilty to the offense on 14th June, 2017.

 The judge ordered that the convict be jailed at the Female Correctional Centre in Freetown for 18 months with hard labour.

Addressing the crowded court, Justice Alhadi said the convict was indicted in the High Court on 10th April, 2017 on one count of Child cruelty contrary to Section 4(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, Chapter 31 of the laws of Sierra Leone 1960 as amended.

She told the court that on 25th September, 2016, the convict willfully assaulted and ill-treated her seven year old child, Adama Conteh, after receiving complainant from the child’s aunt that she had stolen Le90, 000.

“The convict bought some cooking oil, heat it up and then poured the hot oil on her seven year old daughter’s hand,”  the judge said, adding that the child sustained severe burns and deformity to both hands.

The Judge said the accused told the court, after pleading to the offence that, she had wanted to teach her child a lesson so that she would never steal in the future.

“I did it because I was frustrated at the fact that her father had neglected us and was not financially supporting us”, the judge said while reading a deposition of the accused.

In her plea of mitigation, defence counsel, lawyer Cecilia Tucker from the Legal Aid Board, pleaded with the Bench to temper justice with mercy, stating that the convict was a first time offender and had already learnt her lessons while being preliminarily investigated in the lower court.

“I think it is understandable that, a person with parental responsibility may lawfully inflict moderate and reasonable corporal punishment, for the purpose of correcting a child or punishing an offence,” the judge said.

She said whether or not the punishment was reasonable, it must depend upon all the facts of the case, and the age and strength of the child, and the nature & degree of punishment.

She said the action of the convict was unlawful and would therefore render her criminally liable for assault.

“I therefore find the accused person, Fatmata Sesay, guilty of misdemeanor and sentence her to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour.

The Judge ordered that the child be remained in the care of Don Bosco Fambul- an institution that is fit and willing to take care of her until she is 18.

The judge also ordered the younger child, Momoh Alusine Bangura, to remain in the custody of Masiray Kargbo of 333A Looking Town, kissy Mess Mess, until the accused completes her jail term.

However, the judge’s order was subject to the approval of the Ministry of Social welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs.

Meanwhile, State Counsel, Salamatu M. Bah, prosecuted the matter.

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