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Bubacarr Darboe, 28, Receives 10-Year Sentence for Manslaughter in 2022

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Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court

By Landing Ceesay 

Hon. Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court of the Gambia has sentenced 28-year-old Bubacarr Darboe, a resident of Fajikunda to 10 Years in prison for a manslaughter he committed in 2022. 

Bubacarr Darboe was initially charged with murder contrary to section 187 of the Criminal Code, Volume 3, revised laws of The Gambia.

The Prosecution alleged that Bubacarr Darboe on the 9th of January 2022 at Fajikunda in the West Coast Region of the Gambia, with malice aforethought hit one Lamin Darboe with a concrete pillar cement block on his head, causing his death, and thereby committed an offence. 

On May 30, 2022, Bubacarr Darboe appeared in court and pleaded not guilty, with the Court recording his plea accordingly.

In presenting their case, the prosecution summoned 8 witnesses and submitted evidence including the postmortem report of the deceased, statements from both the Accused (Bubacarr Darboe) and witnesses, a concrete cement block, and a photograph of the deceased.

Bubacarr Darboe testified in his defence but did not call any additional witnesses, concluding his presentation.

Subsequently, the Honourable Justice instructed for the submission of written arguments and postponed further proceedings to April 18, 2024, for the adoption of briefs.

The State Law Office submitted its arguments on March 15, 2024, while the defense failed to do so within the specified timeframe.

On February 21, 2024, the State Law Office amended the charge to manslaughter under section 186 of the Criminal Code, Volume 3, Laws of The Gambia.

Following this amendment, the briefing process was halted, and Bubacarr Darboe entered a guilty plea to the amended charge.

During the proceedings, the prosecution presented the circumstances of the offense, which Darboe acknowledged, except for his involvement in a physical altercation with the deceased.

As a result of this disagreement, the court changed Darboe’s plea to not guilty and decided to incorporate the evidence from the murder trial into the manslaughter case, requiring the defense to submit their briefs.

On May 13, 2024, the defense finally submitted their arguments. During the scheduled briefing session, Darboe’s counsel, Omar Susso, informed the court of Darboe’s intention to change his plea to guilty.

Upon questioning by the court, Darboe admitted to the altercation with the deceased and changed his plea accordingly.

“Having worked at the totality of the evidence adduced with trial and the exhibits presented and the accused (Bubacarr Darboe) having accepted the charge in the voluntary statement despite being murder and now accepted the charge of manslaughter. I am therefore satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of manslaughter as charged in the amended information. Accordingly, I hereby found the accused guilty of the manslaughter of one Lamin Darboe of Fajikunda in the West Coast Region and is hereby convicted accordingly,” Hon. Justice convicted Bubacarr Darboe. 

Bubacarr Darboe’s legal representative, Counsel O. Susso, implored the court for leniency in sentencing following his client’s manslaughter conviction, appealing for mercy to be tempered with justice.

“My Lord, the convict before you is a 28-year-old young man who is at his prime. My Lord, at the time when most of our youths are embarking on the tedious journey to the back way, the convict, believes on the contrary. He decided to stay, learn skills and have gainful employment. He was a tailor. 

“My Lord, the events that unfolded on that fateful day at the Fajikunda Mosque were undoubtedly tragedies. A Mosque that is certainly a safe place for the deceased and the convict. My Lord, but the events, do not take time, entirely of the convict character,” Counsel O. Susso told the court. 

Counsel Susso informed the court that Bubacarr Darboe, the convict, had always maintained a clean record before the law. He acknowledged that amidst turmoil and confusion, Darboe made a grave error, one he sincerely laments and bears the burden of. The day of the incident, as noted by Counsel Susso, will undoubtedly stand as the bleakest moment in Darboe’s life.

“According to the convict (Bubacarr Darboe), he went to the Mosque to worship. If I had known this would be the outcome of the visit to the Mosque on that day, I would have rather stayed away. Indeed, he went to the Mosque to seek for forgiveness and to work towards securing a better place hereafter,” he said. 

Counsel Susso emphasized that since the defendant admitted to the revised charges, his remorse has been evident and his demeanor unwavering. Each day of the trial has served as a stark reminder of the irreversible consequences of Bubacarr Darboe’s actions.

Furthermore, Counsel Susso conveyed that the defendant harbors a deep wish to undo the past, though regrettably, it is now beyond remedy. He bears the weight of the deceased’s death with a heavy heart.

Additionally, Counsel Susso asserted that the defendant is not a habitual criminal, but rather, finds himself unfortunately associated with individuals of that nature. It was noted that the defendant is a first-time offender.

“My Lord, our criminal justice system has since time immemorial enjoined trial Courts to consider one of the fundamental principles in our criminal justice system and in doing so the Courts are enjoined to impose lesser sentences. We refer the Court to the case of Nyabally vs The State. My Lord, in addition, the Court has the unfettered discretion pursuant to section 29 of the Criminal Code to consider imposing a lesser sentence notwithstanding the offence charged. My Lord, the convict is an asthmatic patient, which comes with an unexpected attack.

“My lord, we therefore urge this Honourable Court, to look beyond the surface of this case and consider the humanity of the convict, which has been exhibited throughout this trial. In doing so, we urge this court to tamper Justice with mercy. A mercy that this court continues to do for a convict who usually merit for such mercy, unlike such mercy that this Honourable Court will consider convict with merited mercy as the convict,” Counsel Susso pleaded to the court.

During the sentencing, Hon. Justice Jaiteh imposed a 10-year prison term on the convict, effective from the day of his arrest in 2022.

“Having heard the powerful plea in mitigation of the learned defence Counsel for the convict been a first-time offender and has entered an early guilty plea without wasting the Court’s time. That the convict is remorseful and regretted his actions on that faithful day when he visited the Mosque to worship and not to be involved in an altercation that culminated into the unlawful act of manslaughter.

“I found it expedient to state that the modern trend in the administration of criminal justice requires the Court to give the offender the punishment which is propitiated to the offence, taking into consideration such factors as offence seriousness, protection of the public, and the mitigating circumstances. I have ousted the seriousness of the offence committed and the particular circumstance of this case,” Hon. Justice Jaiteh said. 

Hon. Justice Jaiteh explained that although he was initially inclined to impose the harshest penalty of life imprisonment, he ultimately decided against it due to the offender’s first-time status. He emphasized the Gambian Courts’ longstanding practice, as outlined in the case of Nyabally vs. The State (1997-2001) GLR at 64, to show leniency towards first-time offenders.

Furthermore, Hon. Justice Jaiteh noted the convict’s display of remorse and repentance, as well as his swift acknowledgment of guilt, which spared the Court unnecessary time. He concluded that the convict had learned from the experience, prompting him to opt for a less severe punishment.

“I see all these as compelling extenuating factors, which I will hold as mitigating circumstances in favour of the convict. It is because of these reasons that I will not impose the statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment but shall invoke section 29 (2) of the Criminal Code, which thus provides that: ‘A person liable to imprisonment for life or any other period for an offence against this code or against any other law may be sentenced to a shorter term.”

“Thus, if I am needed to tamper justice with mercy, the convict should be taught a lesson nonetheless to deter others. It is for this reason, that the convict BABOUCARR DARBOE is hereby sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The convict’s sentence shall commence from the date he was first taken into custody. The convict is reminded of his right to appeal,” Hon. Justice Jaiteh delivered his judgement.

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