Justice Alhaji Mohamed Momoh-Jah Stevens, an appeal court judge has sentenced two convicts, Saidu Sesay, and Alfred Bangura to twenty years in prison each for sexually assulting their female neighbour.
The convicts were sentenced to five years each for conspiracy and 15 years for gang-raping the victim.
The judgment was held at the Sexual Penetration court in Freetown on Friday 15th September 2023.
There were initially three men in the sexual penetration case, but the third accused, Foday Sesay jumped bail. The presiding judge therefore ordered a bench warrant against him.
State Prosecutor, Yusif Isaac Sesay applied for a separate trial excluding the third accused. The other two accused pleaded not guilty.
After the prosecution had closed its case, the two accused chose to rely on their statements made to police in relation to the case, which the presiding judge said were mere denials with no witness for the defence in support of the said denials
“This is a simple case to decide as the Prosecution has led witnesses in support of its case, there is an endorsed medical report and photographic evidence taken of the scene of the crime,” – said Justice Stevens, adding that “The Offence was committed against an adult victim her consent by having sexual intercourse contrary to Section 6 of the Sexual Offences 2012.”
The presiding judge noted that the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The victim, a businesswoman, had earlier explained her ordeal to the court that she was returning to her residence on the date of the allegation, 19th October 2018, between 1 and 2 a.m. after watching a movie in the house of a neighbor.
According to her, as soon as she entered her premises, she was suddenly attacked by the three men. The victim gave a graphic and harrowing account of how they all raped her. She said it was a neighbour, who heard her screams, rushed towards her house and shouted ‘thieves’ which made the accused flee. The victim told the court that she knew the accused very well as they lived in the same neighbourhood. After the two accused had begged for mercy, their Defence Lawyer, M. Karimu also asked the Judge to temper justice with mercy.
Before pronouncing the sentence, the presiding judge said: “The offence was committed in a degrading manner, molesting a female adult because she was alone that night. An act I see as a naked act of aggression committed against a peaceful woman,” said Justice Stevens.
According to Justice Stevens, the case file was before another court but it was re-assigned to him by the Chief Justice during the just concluded Judicial Week, aimed at clearing a backlog of cases increasing access to justice. The convicts were indicted on two counts of conspiracy and rape committed on 19 October 2018, in Freetown.