By Yankuba Jallow
The Supreme Court of The Gambia has affirmed the high court’s decision against a man convicted of manslaughter for 10 years with hard labour for stabbing his wife to death.
Mamudou Oki Sisoho was convicted in 2014 by the high court for the offence of manslaughter instead of murder as the prosecution wanted.
Sisoho is a Gambian and was resident in Spain. After coming back to The Gambia, his wife gave birth and people began to rumour that the child was not his biological child. He decided to confront his wife who according to Sisoho confessed to him that the rumour was true – that the child was not truly his.
“I picked a knife and stabbed my wife and stabbed myself,” Sisoho testified.
He was arrested and charged with murder and attempting suicide.
Sisoho pleaded for the defence of provocation which was unsuccessful. He was convicted for manslaughter which is a lesser charge to murder. Murder attracts an imprisonment of life imprisonment while manslaughter depends on the discretion of the court. Also, he was convicted for attempting suicide for 2 years with hard labour. He has already served 6 years of the conviction.
The matter was appealed at the Court of Appeal by the State, but the appeal was dismissed in entirety.
On appeal before the Supreme Court, the State lawyers argued that the superior court should overturn the conviction from manslaughter to murder. The State Counsels argued that the killing was intentional and it was done with a preconceived mind.
The state lawyers presented that the trial judge at the high court erred by relying and believing what the accused person told the court about his conversation with his wife – the deceased. They argued that the statement was irrelevant, but the Supreme Court held that it is relevant. The court held that it is not hearsay contrary to the position of the State lawyers who were arguing that the statement was not relevant.
The State contended that the accused person is not entitled to the defence of provocation.
Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow said there is no evidence suggesting Sisoho premeditated.
“The Respondent ( Sisoho) was out of control and stabbed his wife and himself – he was ready to die,” Justice Jallow said.
Jallow said Sisoho is entitled to the defence of provocation. He said imprisonment to life is not a mandatory requirement by law adding the courts can lower it relying on section 29 (2) of the Criminal Code.
He said the Supreme Court is satisfied that the high court judge exercised his discretion judiciously. The apex court affirmed the judgment and dismissed the appeal in entirety.
The decision was made on the 4th December 2020. The judges were Justices Awa Bah, Idrissa Fafa Mba’i, Raymomd Sock and M.M. Sey in addition to the Chief Justice.