Redemption at last! …as taxi driver freed after wrongfully serving 12 years in prison

A taxi driver who was jailed 45 years by the Tema Circuit Court on November 25, 2014, on trumped up charges has finally gained his freedom after spending 12 years in the Maximum Security Prison at Nsawam in the Eastern Region.

The convict, Kwame Ameyome, who was 28 years at the time of his sentence was asked by a businessman to take him from Accra to Prampram at GH¢20.00 but upon arrival at his destination, the passenger (businessman) rather turned round and accused the cabbie of attempting to rob him of his 39,000 dollars.

But for the intervention of the Public Defence Division of the Legal Aid Commission, which took up the matter before a three-member Court of Appeal – panel of judges led by Mr Justice Victor Ofoe at Ho last Friday, the taxi driver would have still been languishing in prison.

The freedom of Mr Ameyome was through the instrumentality of Mr Nelson Mawutor Kporha of the Legal Aid Commission in the Volta Region who was his defence counsel.

The facts as presented were that a businessman by name Ben Mensah, hired Kwame Ameyome to take him in his taxi from Nungua to Prampram and agreed to pay the taxi driver (Ameyome) GH¢20.00

Instead of paying the cabbie the agreed fare, the businessman, allegedly drew a dagger and chopped the cabbie’s ear off and also inflicted deep cuts on his face.

Ameyome who was bleeding profusely staggered back into his vehicle and managed to drive to the Tema General Hospital where he spent two weeks on admission before he was discharged.

His ordeal did not end there as the assailant smartly reported to the police that the cabbie attempted to rob him of his foreign currency i.e. USD 39,000.

Based on that false complaint, Ameyome was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment by the Tema Circuit Court, presided by Madam Lorenda Owusu (as she then was), on November 25, 2014.

At the hearing, Ameyome who had already spent six years behind bars on remand and who did not understand the seriousness of the offence for which he was charged, pleaded guilty with explanation, expecting a lenient sentence from the court, because he had no legal representation.

In his explanation, Ameyome told the court that he only stretched his hand towards the businessman’s wallet which was on his lap to take out the GH¢20 he was supposed to pay him, when it became clear that the businessman was not willing to pay the money.

His sentence was later reduced to 20 years on appeal at a Koforidua High Court, presided by Mr Justice Kenneth A. Kwabi on March 2, 2016.

Finally it took the intervention of the Public Defence Division of the Legal Aid Commission for Ameyome to walk free from the Nsawam Maximum Security Prison.

A three-member Court of Appeal panel sitting at Ho, chaired by Mr Justice Victor Ofoe last week Friday upheld the submission by Defence/Appellant’s counsel, Mr Nelson Mawutor Kporha who argued that the cabbie did not have a weapon and that it was rather the complainant who pulled a dagger to inflict injuries on the appellant before it turned into a fight between them.

It emerged that the cabbie was provoked by the complainant’s refusal to pay him the fare and that the complainant’s claim that he had USD39, 000 in his wallet was doubtful as that was mentioned only for the first time in court, although that was not contained in the facts.

The Court of Appeal panel said that Ameyome had suffered a miscarriage of justice which had adversely affected him.

From Alberto Mario Noretti, Ho

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