The Legal Aid Board (LAB) undertook the legal representation of 37 accused individuals who appeared before Justice Alusine Sesay, JSC, during the recently concluded September Criminal Sessions at the High Court in proceedings that took place on September 19, 2023, at Freetown High Court No. 1, located on Siaka Stevens Street.
Out of a total of 50 individuals whose cases were called before the court, 10 were absent, while two were represented by private counsels. Tragically, one of the accused persons was reported to have passed away.
The charges against the accused persons encompassed a wide range of offenses, including conspiracy to defraud, murder, larceny in a dwelling house, wounding with intent, robbery, robbery with aggravation, assault with intent to rob, shop breaking and larceny, larceny from a person, larceny in a dwelling house and fraudulent conversion.
Among the 37 accused individuals represented by the Legal Aid Board, 15 pleaded guilty to the charges and subsequently received varying prison sentences.
The indigent accused individuals were represented by a team of dedicated Legal Aid Counsels, including Cecilia Tucker, Randy Bangura, Ibrahim Samba, Cyril Taylor-Younge, Morrison Karimu, Harold Momoh, and Abraham Kargbo.
In a related development, the Legal Aid Board also provided representation for three juvenile offenders, identified as Rose Mary John, Sheku Bangura, and Josephus Koroma (pseudonyms), who were discharged by Magistrate Wilbril John of Freetown Magistrate Court No. 7. These juveniles had been standing trial on charges of office breaking and larceny, assault, and fraudulent conversion.
Rose was arrested in May 2023, Sheku in April 2023, and Josephus in August 2023. Following their discharge, the three have been reunited with their families and were represented by Legal Aid Counsel, Fatmata J. Kangbai.
Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, urged the juvenile offenders to return home promptly and resume their education. She emphasized the importance of not missing the academic year, as it could adversely affect their future development.
In a separate development, the Legal Aid Board extended its representation to 104 convicted inmates whose cases were reviewed at the Prison Court in Mafanta, situated in the Tonkolili District, on September 21, 2023. The proceedings were presided over by Justice Alusine Sesay of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone.
All 104 inmates, whose cases were up for review, had been convicted on various charges at Magistrate Courts across the country, including Freetown. Their sentences were being served at the Mafanta Correctional Center. These convictions included 35 cases of larceny, 9 for fraudulent conversion, 8 for obtaining money by false pretense, 5 for conspiracy, 8 for domestic violence, and 2 for wounding.
Among the 104 convicted inmates represented by Legal Aid Counsels, 44 were released, while 60 had their sentences reduced. The legal representation was led by Mohamed Korie, with support from Osman Kamara and contract lawyer J.E. Turay.
Mohamed Korie, the lead Legal Counsel, commended his colleagues for their tireless efforts in representing all the convicted inmates in a single day. He emphasized the importance of ensuring legal representation for indigent accused persons, who constitute the majority of those brought before the courts.
The Executive Director, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles, described the Legal Aid Board’s representation of all the inmates at the Prison Court as a testament to the organization’s growth and efficiency in handling the criminal calendar. She asserted that the Legal Aid Board had no competitors when it came to providing legal support in such cases.