By Musa Paul Feika
One Lamin Koroma is standing trial at the Ross Road Magistrate Court No. 1, which is presided over by Magistrate Alhaji Suliaman Koroma, for allegedly burning a Mercedes Benz vehicle, with registration No. APG 666, which is valued at one hundred and twenty one million Leones (Le121, 000,000). The said property belongs to the complainant, Florence Conteh.
The incident reportedly took place on the 20th June this year, at Devil Hole, Waterloo Highway outside Freetown.
The police prosecution witness, Florence Conteh, a Shipping Agent, in her evidence before the court, said she recognized the accused and could recall 20th June 2020.
According to Madam Conteh, on that fateful day, she was at home at Regent in Freetown, when she received a telephone call from one Michael, at around 17:30pm – 18:00PM. She said Michael informed her that the accused, Lamin Koroma, had allegedly set fire on her Mercedes Benz vehicle at Devil Hole, Waterloo Highway, outside Freetown. She added that, upon receiving the information, she immediately left for the crime scene, noting that, upon her arrival, she saw the accused with two thick rubbers containing petrol, and a stick with a nail fixed on it, which, according to her, the accused used to stop onlookers preventing the vehicle from burning.
The witness added that, before she arrived at the crime scene, she noticed that the vehicle was already completely burnt down.
Madam Conteh further testified that she immediately reported the matter at the Waterloo Police Division; later on a team of police officers from the above mentioned Division and herself left for the crime scene, where photographs of the vehicle were taken by the Scene of Crime Officer (SOCO).
The witness said these photos were later developed into pictures, produced and tendered for identification. She rounded up her testimony stating that she made a statement on the following day in respect of the matter.
The defence counsel, Madieu Sesay, defending the accused, in his cross examination, posed a question to the witness that, on the day of the alleged incident, the vehicle was not in her possession. The witness replied in the affirmative.
Lawyer Sesay put it, again, to Madam Conteh that, on the day of the purported incident, she was not at the crime scene, and that she never saw the accused lighting fire on the vehicle. The witness responded in the affirmative.
The defence counsel further asked the witness whether she was aware what led to the alleged incident.
In her response, she said one Michael intimidated her that the vehicle allegedly hit one of the relatives of the accused seriously, leading to the death of the relative, whose name was not mentioned.
Lawyer Sesay asked the witness whether she made a statement in respect of the matter. Madam Conteh said, “Yes, I did.”
He further asked her whether she wanted the statement made to the Waterloo Police to form part of the court`s records. She also said yes, and it was produced and tendered as exhibit.
The defence counsel asked the witness about the time she received the telephone call from Michael. “I received the telephone call at around 17: 30 -18:00PM,” Madam Conteh replied.
Lawyer Sesay further put it to the witness that, based on her responses regarding the time frame, she was not being truthful to the Bench, because, according to her statement to the police, it was boldly written that she received the call at 19:00pm.
In her response, said she could not recall all what she said to the police on that fateful day.
The defence counsel put it again to Madam Conteh that, throughout her interviewed statement to the police, she never made mention of the accused or told the police that she saw the accused at the crime scene. According to her, on the day of the incident, she saw the accused standing very close to the vehicle.
According to police charge sheet, Lamin Koroma, on the 20th June 2020 at Devil Hole along the Waterloo Highway, burnt one Mercedes Benz vehicle with registration No. APG 666, property belonging to the complainant, Florence Conteh.
The accused was denied bail and was sent to the Male Correctional Centre, Pademba Road in Freetown.
The matter was adjourned to 21st September, 2020.