Appeal Court upholds 30 years sentence for church watchman

A Watchman with Roman Catholic Church Hospital at Mwanzugi Village in Igunga District, Peter Marco, alias John, will remain behind bars for 30 years for robbing Sister Aline Nicette several items, including a mobile phone, all valued at720,000/-.

Justices Augustine Mwarija, Lugano Mwandambo and Lilian Mashaka dismissed for lacking merits the appeal under which Marco, the appellant, had lodged to challenge the judgment issued by High Court.

“We are satisfied that the evidence proved the case against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt, a standard of proof applicable in criminal cases. That said, we find no merit in the appeal and dismiss it,” they declared in their judgment delivered at Tabora recently.

During hearing of the appeal, the appellant had complained, among others, that the evidence of visual identification through two prosecution witnesses relied by the High Court to confirm his conviction of armed robbery was questionable and the case against him was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

In their decision, the justices pointed out that it was not in dispute the appellant was once an employee of the hospital where the armed robbery took place on the material night and was familiar to both Sister Aline and his co-hospital watchman.

They noted from the evidence of such Sister that at the time the bandits, who did not cover their faces, stormed into her bedroom, the electricity light was on illuminating it and she spent 10 minutes with them demanding to be given money or else she would be killed.

“There is no doubt that the bandits were at a close range and upon (the Sister) surrendering money in the sum of 120,000/-, a digital camera and a mobile phone, (the bandits) left,” the justices said.

They also noted, on the other hand, that the other watchman’s evidence was that eight bandits invaded the place, four of whom were armed with pangas. As was familiar to him, he managed to identify the appellant, whom he saw him holding a panga and a gun.

The witness told the trial court that he was able to recognise the appellant through electricity light illuminating the place and the bandits were close enough to him such that even after suffering injury following a gunshot leaving him unconscious, he was able to remember the appellant as one of them.

Indeed, the justices said, the appellant was arrested the following day in connection with the offence before being arraigned in court together with the two other co-accused, who were acquitted.

It was their views that all precautions against acting on recognition evidence were considered and the appellant was singled out as one of the bandits who committed armed robbery on the material night.

“Like the first appellate court (High Court), we have found nothing to disturb the findings of the trial court on the evidence of the identification on the basis of which (the appellant) was convicted and sentenced,” the justices said.

On the night of August 07, 2016, armed robbers invaded a compound of Roman Catholic Church Hospital at Mwanzugi Village in Igunga District, Tabora Region.

Having gained access to the compound, the robbers forced their entry into a bed room occupied by Sister Aline Nicette, grabbed from her cash money in the sum of 120,000/-, one digital camera and a mobile phone, Samsung of make.

Three culprits, the appellant included were arrested a few days later and charged of the offence of armed robbery to which they pleaded not guilty. After hearing the evidence from the prosecution and defence, the appellant was found guilty and subsequently sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.

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