Court of Appeal Judge, Hon. Justice Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens, presiding over cases at the Sexual Offences Model Court in Freetown has sentenced 65-year-old Business man, Mohamed Conteh to eight years imprisonment for sexually assaulting and impregnating his 17-year-old daughter.
Esther Kargbo (not her real name) is an SS 3 pupil presently resident at the Don Bosco Fambul home in Freetown.
The convict was before the Court on a two count indictment of Incest contrary to Section 10(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2012, Act No.12 of 2012.
According to the particulars of offence, the Convict, Mohamed Conteh on a date unknown between the 1st day of January 2017 and the 31st day of December 2017 at Orsu Guest House in Lungi, in the Port Loko District of the Republic of Sierra Leone engaged in an act of sexual intercourse with the victim, his biological daughter.
It was also alleged that the convict on a date unknown between the 1st day of August 2020 at Flymeaningo Guest House, Bamoi Luma, in the Kambia District of the Republic of Sierra Leone engaged in a Sexual intercourse with the victim who is his biological daughter.
Upon his arraignment, the Accused pleaded not guilty to both Counts.
State Prosecutor Musa Pious Sesay made an Application pursuant to Section 144(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act No.32 of 1965 as repealed and replaced by Section 3 of the Criminal Procedure (amendment) Act 1981, Act No. 11 of 1981, for the accused to be tried by judge alone instead of a Judge and Jury. His application was granted by the judge.
According to the victim, his father started making sexual advances at her in 2017 in Freetown, adding that on several occasions, his father (convict) approached her at night and undressed her, placed a towel under her legs, undressed himself and thereafter placed his penis into her vagina.
The victim told the Court that because she was severely beaten by her father, she could no longer bear the situation so she fled the house where she was initially resident in Freetown to stay with her Aunt, Madam Kadie, the younger sister of the convict.
She said because her Aunt couldn’t remedy the situation she returned the victim to her Father.
She told the Court that on two occasions in Lungi and Kambia, her father took her to herbalists for traditional healing after he referred to her as a witch who needed traditional treatment and counseling.
She stressed that in each of those places her father lodged in a Guest House where he invited her and sexually abused her and was later diagnosed to be five months pregnant.
In his Voluntary Cautioned Statement to Police, the accused (father) confirmed that he was in the same room with the victim at the very Orsu Guest House at Lungi for three months.
She added that while her father noticed that she was pregnant, her father gave her a traditional medicine disguised as a syrup but she refused to drink and was severely beaten to the point that she didn’t account of anything but later woke up at the Kambia Government Hospital where she had a miscarriage of the Twenty Four weeks pregnancy.
From the Kambia Government Hospital, the victim was transferred to the Aberdeen Women’s Centre in Freetown where she was treated and the accused arrested and subjected to Police investigation.
The Second Prosecution Witness, Alhassan Teddy Turay, a Detective Sergeant who is attached to the Family Support Unit at the Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters in Freetown, tendered in Court an endorsed Medical report which affirmed that the victim was pregnant for Twenty Four weeks but the ‘ foetus had died’.
The convict confessed to the Police Detectives at the Kambia Police Station that he knew that the victim, her daughter with whom he was sharing the same bed with for Seven Months in the same Guest House was pregnant but denied having any sexual intercourse with the victim.
In his testimony, the accused told the Court that he lives at Flamingo Guest House, Bamoi, Kambia District. The accused described the victim as his ‘Daughter’, but went on to testify that the mother of the victim was his girlfriend and that her mother abandoned her in his house.
Delivering his judgment, Honourable Justice Stevens noted that it was clear fact that the accused started sexual intercourse with the Victim in Freetown in the year 2017.
He said, “from the evidence of the victim, it seems to me that it was deliberate on the part of the accused to traffic the victim first from Freetown to Lungi at a guest house called Orsu guest house where the victim said the accused first had sexual intercourse with her.”
He added that, “these actions of the accused I consider them as sinful, disdainful and unorthodox.”
Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens further asserted that, “I therefore submit that the case of the Prosecution is consistent and well corroborated, and has been established beyond reasonable doubt as was provided in the case of Woolmington Vs Director of Public Prosecutions (1935) A.C. 462.”
“The Defence case is weak and uncorroborated as the accused made several confessional statements such as he took the victim to a guest house in Lungi and he shared the same room with the victim for three months without the consent or knowledge of a Third party, also he took the victim to Kambia district and they shared the same bedroom for six months, again without the consent or knowledge of a third party,” said Hon. Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens.
“I therefore submit that the sole intention of the accused in taking the victim to Port Loko District for three months and Kambia District for Six months, sharing the same bed room was to have sexual intercourse with the victim, which the accused did, as supported by the both endorsed medical reports obtained on behalf of the victim. I therefore hold that the accused is guilty on Count 1. The Accused is also guilty on Count 2,” he said.
In his allocutus, the convict said the police had “cooked up” the allegation against him and that he had done nothing wrong.
Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens sentenced the accused to eight years imprisonment.
He also ordered the convict to compensate the victim the sum of Thirty Million Leones (Le 30, 000,000.00), ‘for emotional distress, pain and suffering’ the Victim endured at the hands of the accused, her dad, which must be paid immediately by the convict after serving his jail term.
Training & Job Placement, Keys to poverty alleviation
The Minister of Labour and Social Security, Alpha Osman Timbo, has stated that training and placement of personnel in required job positions were the most sustainable ways of alleviating poverty in any nation.
Mr. Timbo was speaking at the official launch of the ‘Opportunity Salone Programme’ on Tuesday, 23rd November, 2021, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown. ’Opportunity Salone’ is an Eight Million Euros (€8m) job creation programme, aimed at creating about 4,000 jobs for Sierra Leonean women, youth and persons with disability in four districts of Sierra Leone. The programme will be implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone.
It is being funded by the European Union (EU), and will create more job opportunities in the Bo, Kenema, Portloko and Bombali Districts for an initial period of four (4) years in the first phase. Its key focus areas are the maintenance of feeder roads and youth entrepreneurship for agricultural value chain development.
Despite the correlation between decent work and economic growth, Mr. Timbo pointed out that achieving decent work remained a huge challenge in many parts of the developing world, including Sierra Leone.
The Minister explained that the United Nations Development Programme Indices and Indicators 2018 Statistical Update estimated that 70% of youth in Sierra Leone were unemployed or underemployed, adding that the overall poverty rate currently stood at 57%, according to the 2018 Statistics Sierra Leone Integrated Household Survey.
“The most sustainable way of alleviating poverty is by training and job-placing prospective employees. Therefore, in order to ensure the successful implementation of the ‘Opportunity Salone Programme’, my Ministry will fully collaborate and cooperate with all the relevant stakeholders”, the Labour Minister committed.
However, he said that this commitment placed more responsibility on the Government to strengthen the Ministry, in order to enable it to efficiently execute its mandate and tasks.
The EU Head of Delegation, Manuel Muller, said that he was confident that the project would be a huge boost to the country’s economy and the human capital initiative of the Government of Sierra Leone.
“This will no doubt provide the much needed boost to the human capital initiative of the Government of Sierra Leone and contribute to achieving the sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). The project will contribute to job creation, both in terms of quantity and quality, for women and men in rural areas”, he stated.
He applauded respective ministers and district councils’ chairpersons for their leadership, commitment and contributions to the feasibility of the project, even during the difficult times of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Even though agriculture is a key sector for Sierra Leone’s economy contributing over 50% of GDP and employs about two-third of the active population, Ambassador Muller observed that transforming it into a vibrant sector driving a sustainable socio-economic development of the country remained a huge challenge.
The Ambassador also assured that the EU Delegation in the country would continue to engage key line ministries in order to contribute to their effort towards the inclusive and sustainable economic growth of Sierra Leone.
ILO’s Regional Director, Vanessa Phala, observed that the launch was a milestone in the collaborative relationship between Sierra Leone and the ILO, adding that the programme was one of her organization’s many successes recorded in Sierra Leone.
She pointed out that the ILO had a wealth of experience in promoting decent work and social justice and had been working with the government and social partners to implement interventions aimed at job creation through Small and Medium Enterprises.
Madam Phala encouraged stakeholders to partner, support and collaborate to ensure that decent work opportunities were provided to young Sierra Leonean men and women; and to help create a conducive environment that promotes sustainable micro and small enterprises.