By Bruce Asemota
The Supreme Court of The Gambia yesterday dismissed the appeal of Lamin Jah who was jailed for life for raping a woman in her home, and for assault and robbery.
The five-judge panel presided over by Chief Justice Hassan Jallow declared that it saw no compelling reason to reject the sentence imposed on Mr Jah by the high court which was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal.
On the night of 2nd September, 2009, the victim [name withheld] was in her Kotu West home, moving from her bedroom into the hallway to get a lit candle, when she was accosted by Jah who had somehow gained entrance into her residence. He threatened to kill her if she raised alarm, and forced her into her bedroom, where he proceeded to rape her. He got hold of a machete, which she kept under her settee for protection, and threatened to use it on her. Under the threat, she succumbed to his sexual attack and he attempted to strangle her by choking. While the sexual attack was on, power was restored, and the victim was able to clearly see Jah. After the rape, Jah stole a Samsung and Nokia mobile phones, a Guaranty Trust Bank ATM card, D7,000, jewellery, a black, green and pink wallets, an ID card, an insurance card, a TIN certificate, office keys, Chanel 5 perfume, Tommy Hilfiger handbag, passport photos, and a social security card. After making additional threats against her if she were to raise an alarm, Jah left the house.
The victim ran to her mother’s residence, which was nearby, and reported the attack to the Kotu police. She was sent for medical examination at the Bakau Health Centre, and a preliminary report was issued by the medical examiner.
Due to the theft of the ATM card the police were looking out for anyone who would attempt to use it. Later on day of the incident, Jah was caught on close-circuit camera, attempting to use it at an ATM outlet. He was arrested and subsequently arraigned.
He was sentenced to 14 years for the robbery; life imprisonment for the rape; five years imprisonment for the assault; and five years imprisonment for the attempted theft.
He appealed his conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal on 18th December, 2014 but it was dismissed and he subsequently appealed against the Court of Appeal decision at the Supreme Court, canvassing for a reduction of the sentences for the rape and robbery.
The Supreme Court stated that an appellate court may in the proper circumstances interfere with sentences imposed by a trial court if it is of the view that the sentences are too severe in all the circumstances of the case, or, are in any other way, inordinate. It declared that offences of rape and of robbery carry maximum and not minimum sentences and saw no reason why it should interfere with the sentences imposed.