A level 300 student of Valley View University who was jailed 18 years for shooting at a police officer on duty during a robbery spree has had his sentence reduced to 10 years on appeal.
Victor Richmond Ato Sagoe was found guilty by the Circuit Court and handed an 18-year jail term.
The trial court in handing down the sentence said the Court took into consideration the one year the first accused person (Appellant) had served in custody, a plea for mitigation, and being a first offender.
“However, the Court also took the view that in considering the mitigating factors, the Court is mindful of the prevailing cases of robbery which required deterrent sentence especially when people are emboldened even to shoot at policeman instead of running to hide when you have crime in your heart and mind, especially the case of the second accused person,” the trial court noted.
But, the convict appealed against the sentence on grounds that, the punishment was harsh and excessive considering the fact that he is a first-time offender.
The Criminal Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Her Ladyship Justice Lydia Osei Marfo, who heard the appeal said, though the trial judge was no doubt right, “now the action of the Court in sentencing is moving towards reformation rather than punitive.”
“In his (trial judge), reasoning, considering the circumstances of the case of the Court, what the Appellant did was unpardonable,” Justice Lydia Osei Marfo stated.
“He would have killed the officer if he did not have a bulletproof on. The aggravating factors were just grave and at the time of passing sentence he was perfectly right,” she reasoned.
“However, the reasoning behind can be looked at again considering the sentencing policy guidelines for the country. Now the action of the Court in sentencing is moving towards reformation rather than punitive. I also believe it is about time our thinking towards the imposition of sentences should be reoriented towards giving sentences that will not be too penal and at the same time not too lenient to make a mockery of our penal justice system.
“I also believe that when an Appellant appears before an Appellate Court asking for a reduction of sentence, he must show to the Court that he has received or attained special skills while serving his prison term and that he would be ready to integrate into society to lead a responsible life. He must also demonstrate he has indeed regretted and is remorseful for his past conduct.
“In this appeal, I think the Appellant has made out a reasonable case to receive favorable response from the Court.
“I will hereby grant his appeal and reduce his sentence from 18 years on each count to 10 years on each count sentence run concurrently,” the court delivered.
The Appellant and the others were charged with the offices as follows:
1. Conspiracy to commit crime to Section 23 (1) of Act 29
2. Attempt to commit crime to wit Robbery contrary to Sections 18 (1) and 49 of Act 29.
3. Attempt to commit crime to wit Murder contrary to Sections 18 (1) and 46 of Act 29.
4. Possession of ammunition without lawful authority contrary to Section 192 (1) of Act 29/60.
The facts of the case as narrated to the Court were that on July 28, 2014 at about 9:00pm, convict, (the Appellant) who was a level 300 student of Valley View University armed himself with his father’s pistol with 19 rounds of live ammunitions, approached his friend (1st Accused person) for them to embark on robbery expedition.
According to the prosecution, the 1st accused person, a labourer at the Police Hospital Mortuary also invited one Nana Yaw Poku (A3) and T.I. (A4) who are currently on the run and they joined the gang.
The prosecution said, the four proceeded to a drinking spot popularly called ‘Container’ at Osu Oxford Street to plan.
“They finally agreed to snatch a Toyota Corolla Taxi. So on 29th August, 2014 at about 12:30pm, 2nd accused person was made to stop a Toyota Corolla Taxi with registration No. GW 8379 14 driven by one Bismark Acquaye.
“The four joined the said taxi and 2nd accused who was in front told the driver to take them to Dzorwulu,” the facts stated.
It added that, “on their way after Kawukudi traffic light, 2nd accused person asked the driver if he understands Ga, but the driver responded in the negative even though he was a Ga.”
“When the driver got to a dark area, 2nd accused person told his accomplices in Ga language that the area was a convenient place for them to snatch the taxi,” the facts stated.
“He then instructed the driver to a direction which was darkened but the driver having heard his earlier conversation, drove the opposite direction to a Police snap check, stopped and alerted the Police on duty,” it added.
Attack on police
The facts further stated that the four came out of the taxi and were ordered to kneel down and they did.
“The Policemen then started to search 1st accused person who was holding a bag and found three live ammunition and a pepper spray in the bag.
“When it was the turn of 2nd accused person, he woke up and pulled out a pistol and fired straight into the chest of G/L/CPL. Gideon Duut who was on a motorbike patrol at the snap check and he fell to the ground.
“The four took to their heels, but the Policemen made radio calls for re-enforcement.
“Three patrol cars quickly responded and they combed the whole area and arrested 1st and 2nd accused persons but the other two managed to escape,” the prosecution noted.
The prosecution stated that a search conducted in the room of 1st accused person revealed extra 15 live ammunition.
“The scene was also searched and the empty shell fired was also retrieved.”