Justice Landing M. Sanneh, the presiding Judge of the High Court in Basse, in the Upper River Region (URR), has sentenced one Omar Jallow to 15 years in prison with hard labour for reportedly raping a 14-year-old girl in one of the villages in the Central River Region (CRR).
The accused, Omar Jallow, is charged with one-count offence of rape contrary to Section 3(1) (a) of the Sexual Offences Act, 2013.
The particulars of offence stated that the accused on 7 January 2021 or thereabouts in the Central River Region of the Republic of The Gambia, “within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court” had unlawful carnal knowledge of an underage girl thereby committed an offence.
When the charge, together with the particulars of offence, was read to him in English language and translated to the Fula language he claimed to understand and opted to speak in his trial, the accused Jallow, in his plea to the said information, stated: “I did not rape her, but I had sex with her on two occasions one of which was in my compound and the other one near her compound. We discussed marriage, and she is my uncle’s daughter.”
However, in an attempt to prove their case, six witnesses were called by the prosecution and four exhibits were tendered by the same. The accused, on the other hand, testified alone and did not call any other witness nor did he tender any exhibit in his defense.
Exhibits ‘A’ and ‘C’ were marked as the accused’s Voluntary and Cautionary Statements, whilst Exhibit ‘B’ was the Witness Statement of PW2 Veronic Sarr and Exhibit ‘D’ the Witness Statement of PW4 Ismaila Camara.
In his ruling, Justice Sanneh said: “I have carefully listened to the plea of mitigation of both the Defence Counsel and the convict himself. I must, however, say that the convict cannot go unpunished as the offence of rape is rampant in both Central River and Upper River Regions of this country,in which this court has a great role to play so as to curb this ugly menace in our society.”
He stated further: “Each time a girl child especially a minor is raped, it has anever-ending stigma on her for the rest of her life, especially when the end result of such rape leads to pregnancy of the girl child thus forcing the girl child to motherhood at that tender age of her life (as in the instant case).
“The convict should have waited for the Prosecutrix to reach the statutory age to marry in The Gambia and then marry her lawfully as he said they discussed marriage.
“I have looked at the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 respectively of the same Act. This court is aware of the provisions of Section 4 (a) (iii) (aa-ee) of the same; it is however my considered view that the convict should be punished under Section 4 (1) (a) (ii) and is so punished since he is convicted under Section 3 (2) (b) of the same Act.”
Justice Sanneh finally handed down the sentence: “Consequently, the convict, Omar Jallow, is sentenced to fifteen-year imprisonment with hard labour. The sentence should start running from the 09th July 2021 when this court remanded him.”