Teacher wrongfully jailed 20 years over defilement freed

The Accra High Court has acquitted Maxwell Bernieh, a teacher who was wrongly convicted of defilement in 2016. The judgment comes after Mr Bernieh had already spent six years of a 20-year jail sentence for a crime he did not commit. Mr Bernieh indicated that in 2015, he was employed as a teacher in one of the Junior High Schools in the Greater Accra Region.

“I was excited to have secured the job because I had been unemployed for some time. Just one month after being in the school, I was supervising an examination when some officers came to arrest me for no reason. I got to the Police station and I was accused of defiling a student I do not even know. I looked into the face of the girl and I had not even met her before because she was not in my class. I still did not understand what was happening and the case eventually proceeded to court,” he indicated.

According to him, he was paraded before the court and pleaded not guilty to the charge of defilement. He adds that the case was adjourned on several occasions. “Anytime the case is called, the girl in question will not show up and I will be told she is undergoing an operation. I still did not know what I had done to the girl that is making her go through an operation. After about seven months of trial, I was sentenced to 20 years in July 2016. I told the judge I was innocent but she did not listen. She only told me to file an appeal. I was sent to Nsawam,” he narrated.

He indicates that a private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, later came to his rescue and filed for an appeal.
After months of the trial at the high court, he is now a free man.

The prosecution, therefore, failed to lead evidence to show that it was the accused person who defiled the victim. Having found that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused person had sexual intercourse with the victim, then it follows that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This ground of appeal succeeds. With such failure to establish the essential elements of the offence, it follows that the offence charged was not established against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt and he ought not to have been convicted.

“The result is that the appeal succeeds and the same is upheld. I hereby set aside the conviction and ultimately the sentence imposed on the appellant herein. The appellant is accordingly acquitted and discharged,” part of the appeal ruling by her ladyship Justice Mary M.E Nsenkyere (Mrs) indicated

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