A couple, Stephen Nwankwo and his wife, Fortune Nwankwo, who conspired and murdered their 19-year old housemaid, Joy Adole and tied her neck with a rope to cover up the crime, has finally been jailed in Lagos State.
The High Court of Lagos State sitting in Ikeja found the couple culpable in the commission of the crime and thereby convicted and sentenced them.
While the wife was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment, the husband was jailed for two years imprisonment without an option of fine for the involuntary murder of late Joy Adole
The trial Judge, Justice Oyindamola Ogala, held that the prosecution had convincingly proved the charge of manslaughter, conspiracy and attempt to pervert justice.
The Court convicted the man, Stephen, of the counts of conspiracy and attempt to pervert Justice.
Justice Ogala said the Court was convinced that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were not only strong but also corroborated the fact that the housemaid died due to the beating by the woman, Fortune.
“The first defendant beat the deceased, which caused her death as she had not been feeling well prior to the incident.”
“The defendants did not inform or call the family of the deceased from 5am when they found out she had died until noon when the second defendant called the sister of the deceased and asked for her full name and other personal information so as to enable them embalm her in the morgue.”
“The second defendant, having found out that the first defendant had killed the deceased due to the beating, assisted her in perverting the course of Justice by hanging the body with a rope.”
“There were three adults in the house, the defendants and the housemaid.”
The defendants were the last two adults that got in contact with the housemaid before her death.
“The hanging was staged and the deceased was hung by a rope and the position the Police found her body did not depict suicide as her feet were on the floor,” she said.
The judge further held that the defendants tampered with the evidence as they had already embalmed the body, which made it difficult for the toxicologist to carry out an autopsy as the cause of death was uncertain.
“Dr Sunday Sokunle-Soyemi, testified before the Court that the body of the deceased was embalmed before she was brought for autopsy.”
“As a result, the cause of death cannot be ascertained as the body should not have been embalmed before autopsy.”
“In the circumstance of this case where medical evidence is inconclusive, the court shall infer evidence on their evidences available.”
“The doctor said that the toxicology could not be performed because the defendants had embalmed the deceased before autopsy
could be carried out.”
“The defendants were the last couple to be seen with the deceased. The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.”
“It is also imperative to say that the evidence of the investigative police officer (IPO) on what he saw at the scene can never be hearsay. Evidence of an IPO is never to be referred to as hearsay as contended by the defence in this case,” Ogala said.
The judge sentenced the first defendant to 14 years for involuntary manslaughter and five years for attempt to pervert the cause of Justice and misconduct as regards with regard to a body and ordered that the sentences must run concurrently.
The judge also sentenced the second defendant to two years imprisonment.