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Man sent to jail for stealing phone from sick person in hospital

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By Aisha Tamba

One Omar Nije was yesterday convicted and sentenced to six months imprisonment for stealing a mobile phone worth D9, 000 from one Seedy Fatty who was in his sick bed at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital. 

Omar accepted guilt before Principal Magistrate M Krubally of the Banjul magistrates’ Court.

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According to police prosecutor AY Bojang, the theft occurred on 29 August when the accused walked into the EFSTH and found Seedy in his sick bed, greeted him, and asked how he was doing. The sick man returned his compliments and asked Omar what he was doing at the hospital and he told him that he was there for a checkup and was waiting for a doctor.

But surprisingly, according to the policeman, Omar proceeded to grab the phone from the sick man’s pocket who shouted ‘thief, thief’ leading to the apprehension of the accused by security officers at the hospital.

In court yesterday Omar admitted guilt and told the court that he needed money to pay his medical bills. “I was supposed to go for an operation but did not have money and that was what led me to steal the phone,” he said

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He pleaded to the court for mercy on the grounds that both his parents are dead and his siblings are under his support.

Delivering judgment, Magistrate Krubally said he has considered Omar’s plea of guilt and the fact that he did not waste the court’s time. He noted also that though he is touched by Omar’s plea of mitigation he cannot allow him to go free without punishment to serve as deterrence, one of the objectives of criminal law.

The magistrate questioned why Omar should steal a mobile phone from a sick person who would have been more traumatised from the theft of his phone. “This is unacceptable. Stealing is wrong,” he said before he sentencing Omar to six months. He ordered the prison authorities to subject him to medical checkup. “If he is found to be sick, the state shall support him with any treatment,” the magistrate said. 

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