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Relevance of the Age of an Accused Person in a Criminal Trial

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CASE TITLE: BARNABAS v. STATE (2022) LPELR-58244(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 19TH JULY, 2022

PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE (SENTENCING)

LEAD JUDGMENT: YUSUF ALHAJI BASHIR, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION:

​ This appeal borders on the offence of armed robbery.

FACTS:

This appeal is against the decision of the Honourable Justice O. A. Adegbehingbe then of the High Court of Ondo State delivered on the 17th day of December 2020.

The Appellant and 5 others were arraigned before the trial Court on the allegation of criminal conspiracy and armed robbery contrary to Sections 6(b) and 1(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap R11 Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The Appellant and five others conspired together and committed a series of robberies to wit: on 7th April 2018 at about 10:30 pm they attacked and robbed one Dele Taiwo (PW2) Technician and commercial driver while travelling along Ifon road. And again on 3rd April 2018 committed yet another robbery on the Uzeba-Ifon road, where they attacked one Alaba Yakubu (PW3). They took some amount of money and other items from him using force.

At the end of the trial, the prosecution called four witnesses and tendered some exhibits while the Appellant testified as DW4 in his own defence. He denied the allegation entirely. He did not call any other witness, however, his co-accused persons of them testified at the trial essentially in their own defence, not as witnesses to one another.

​The learned trial Judge eventually found the Appellant and his co-accused persons guilty and sentenced all of them to death by hanging.

Dissatisfied with the decision, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:

The Court of Appeal determined the appeal on the following issues:

1. Whether or not from the totality of the evidence before the lower Court the offences of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery have been established against the Appellant beyond a reasonable doubt?

2. Whether the lower Court was right in passing a death sentence on the Appellant in view of the circumstance surrounding his age at the material time of his arrest?

DECISION/HELD:

In a decision of 2-1 Lokulo Sodipe J.C.A dissenting, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part. The trial court’s sentence of death was substituted for life imprisonment.

RATIOS:

  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY: Proper approach to an indictment which contains a charge of conspiracy and a substantive charge 
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – AGE OF AN ACCUSED PERSON: The duty of the trial Court to conduct an inquiry to determine the age of an accused person where necessary 
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – AGE OF AN ACCUSED PERSON: Whether it is the age of an accused person at the date of sentencing that is material or the age at the time the offence was committed 
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – AGE OF AN ACCUSED PERSON: Effect of failure of Court to conduct an inquiry to determine the age of an accused person where necessary 
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – SENTENCING: Whether an Appellate Court can substitute a sentence
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – DEATH SENTENCE: Whether the Court must pronounce the mandatory death sentence where a child/young person is convicted under the Robbery and Firearms Act 

lawpavilion • September 22, 2022


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Comments

  1. Solomon Chinedu September 24, 2022 - 10:07 pm Reply

    Interesting read. I’m not a lawyer, but I found this enlightening. Kudos!

    • lawpavilion October 5, 2022 - 8:47 am Reply

      We are happy to read this.

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