Magistrate Hadiru Daboh Delivers Judgment in Kabala Trespass Case

Magistrate Hadiru Daboh.jpg

By Alvin Lansana Kargbo

Magistrate Hadiru Daboh on April 28, 2024, delivered a judgment in the Kabala Magistrate’s Court, concluding a high-profile criminal trespass case. Representing the complainant was D. B. Stark Esq.  while A. S. Faroh Esq. defended the accused.

The case involved Mohamed Foday Kamara of Makeni Road, Kabala Town, against Edward Koroma, Chernoh Jalloh, Isata Conteh, Katie Conteh, Mohamed Conteh and Amie, all residents of Market Square, Kabala Town. The defendants were charged with trespass under Section 15(1)(c) of the Public Order Act, No. 46 of 1965. They all pleaded not guilty on March 15, 2024, and were subsequently granted bail.

The Prosecution presented three witnesses, while the Defense brought forward two. Mohamed Foday Kamara, the complainant, testified that the defendants unlawfully installed market stalls on the staircases leading to his parlor. This testimony was corroborated by two other prosecution witnesses. The defendants did not deny the ownership of the property but claimed they had been granted permission by a family member, a claim which was denied in court.

A worker from the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), Ballah Musa Sesay, testified for the defense, stating that the area in question was a ‘right of way.’ However, Magistrate Daboh dismissed this, noting that SLRA does not have the authority to allocate another person’s property as a right of way.

Magistrate Daboh pointed out that the defense failed to produce any of the defendants as witnesses, which weakened their case. He affirmed that trespassing requires both the act (actus reus) and intent (mens rea), both of which were present in this case.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” Magistrate Daboh stated. “The defendants occupied the complainant’s property without permission, making them trespassers. This was confirmed during two site visits.”

In his judgment, Magistrate Daboh found the defendants guilty of trespass. He referenced legal precedents, noting that property owners have the right to remove trespassers without a court order, although it is not recommended due to potential disturbances.

The defendants were sentenced to three months imprisonment or alternatively, to vacate the property within two weeks, handing it over to the complainant through the Bailiff. No costs were awarded.

Magistrate Daboh concluded by emphasizing that trespass is a serious offense under both civil and criminal law, underscoring the rights of property owners against unauthorized occupation.

Magistrate Daboh posed critical questions during his deliberation:

1. Did any of the defendants testify?
2. Does SLRA have the authority to designate private property as a ‘right of way’?
3. Does payment of market dues grant a ‘right of way’?

He concluded that the answers were ‘No.’ He criticized the Defense Counsel for not calling any defendants to testify, stating that the principle of easement was misused by the defendants.

Magistrate Daboh referenced the legal principle from DPP vs. Woolmington (1935) that actus reus and mens rea must be present for criminal culpability. He found that the defendants were trespassers, occupying Mohamed Foday Kamara’s property without permission.

The Magistrate declared the defendants guilty of trespass, sentencing them to three months imprisonment. Alternatively, they could vacate the premises within two weeks. No costs were ordered.

This ruling by Magistrate Hadiru Daboh underscores the importance of property rights and the illegality of unauthorized occupation, setting a precedent for similar cases in Kabala Town.



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