Father of 11 charged for manslaughter; says he mistook deceased for animal

In Akim Asuboa near Akim Oda, a 63-year-old farmer has pleaded not guilty to a charge of manslaughter. He informed police investigators that he had shot the deceased by mistake. Initially, the accused, who is a tailor, denied any knowledge of the death of Prince Kwabena Kumi, a 36-year-old Aeronautic Engineer. However, he later admitted to shooting him, believing he was an animal.

Joseph Kwesi Effah, a father of 11, is now facing a jury trial for the incident that occurred in March 2018.

According to the Principal State Attorney, Mrs. Sefakor Batse, in her opening address to the jury, the accused, Joseph Kwesi Effah, resides in Akim Asuboa, while the deceased, Prince Kwabena Kumi, was an aeronautic engineer working with Africa World Airlines in Accra. On March 31, 2018, the deceased left Accra to visit his mother in Akim Asuboa.

After arriving in Akim, he was seen at a drinking spot and later at the Akim Akroso Lorry Station, highly intoxicated, with his car obstructing the road. The Akroso police impounded his vehicle and placed him on a passenger bus headed to Akim Oda. An arrangement was made for a trader named Benedicta Buruwaa to meet the deceased upon his arrival, but this plan fell through.

The deceased was never seen again, so his relatives reported him missing to the Akim Oda Police station. On April 3, 2018, a search party found Prince Kwabena Kumi’s decomposed body in the bush along the Asuboa-Akroso road. Investigations revealed that the accused was a member of the Akim Asuboa ‘Neighbourhood Watch Committee’ and was on duty with another member on the night of the incident.

During their patrol, they heard a snoring sound in the bush, which they mistook for a pig. The accused, carrying a locally manufactured gun, fired in that direction without confirming the target. They only realized they had shot a human when they reached the location. However, they left without providing assistance or reporting the incident to the police.

The pathologist determined the cause of death as haemorrhagic shock, severe jaw and chest injuries, and a gunshot at an intermediate range. Investigation led to the arrest of the accused and the retrieval of three locally manufactured single-barrel guns, including the accused’s, which were sent to the forensic laboratory for ballistic examination.

The ballistic report indicated that the pellets retrieved from the deceased’s body could have been fired from any of the guns retrieved, including the accused’s. These shotguns were found to be lethal and capable of causing fatal wounds.

In his initial statements to the police, the accused denied knowledge of the death but later admitted to the shooting, claiming it was a mistake, as he thought he was firing at an animal. He also admitted to failing to offer assistance or report the incident out of fear and insisted he did not intend to kill Prince Kwabena Kumi.

The accused is now facing charges of manslaughter according to section 50 of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) and is on trial in court. His defense lawyers emphasized his respectability in the neighborhood and his lack of knowledge about the incident until his arrest. The case has been adjourned to November 16 for pre-trial hearing.

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