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REX v. JOSEPH ATTOH AHUMAH QUAYE

JELR 81015 (WACA)

West Africa Court of Appeal  •   •  West Africa [For WACA cases]

Coram
Cor. KINGDON, WEBBER, C.JJ., and BARTON, J.

Judgement

 KINGDON, C.J., NIGERIA, WEBBER, C.J., SIERRA LEONE, AND BARTON, J.

The accused, who was in the employment of the United Africa Company Limited as accounts manager at the Company's branch establishment at Nsawam, was convicted by Petrides, C.J., at the Assizes in Accra on three counts if an information for “falsification of accounts,” section 283 (1) of the Criminal Code. The learned Chief Justice found on the evidence that the accused obtained two and a half cases of kerosene from the Company's store for his own personal use and that, with intent to defraud the Company, he instructed one of the clerks in the accounts office, named Ofori, to make a false entry in the stores transfer book purporting to show that the kerosene had been obtained from the store on watchmen's expenses account, and that Ofori, acting innocently, carried out these instructions, with the result that the false entry in the stores transfer book was repeated in one of the ledgers, ledger No.2, and also with the result that a true entry showing the kerosene as debited to accused's private account was omitted from ledger No.8. On these findings the accused was convicted on the first, third and fifth counts of the information. The grounds of appeal which have been argued before us are:-

“1. That the learned Chief Justice misdirected himself in the summing up when he said that the accused had set up the defence that there had been no intent to defraud and that the entries complained of were accidental, and that he therefore erred in admitting evidence of other transactions; and

“2, that there was no evidence to support the convictions on the third and fifth counts.”

With regard to the first ground of appeal, although it appears from the record that the accused denied in his evidence that he gave instructions to Ofori to debit the kerosene to watchmen's expenses, a reference to the cross-examination of the witnesses for the prosecution shows that it was suggested by the defence that the entry made by Ofori in the stores transfer book was accidental and not designed by the accused. We are therefore of opinion that the evidence of other transactions was admissible, not only for this reason but also for the purpose of showing that the transaction, the subject of the charges, was done with intent to defraud. We are also of opinion that there was ample evidence for the finding that the accused received the kerosene for his own personal use and fraudulently procured a false entry to be made by Ofori who acted innocently and without any knowledge that the entry was otherwise than true. We are therefore of opinion that accused was rightly convicted on the first count.

In regard to the third count, appellant's Counsel has contended that, even assuming there was evidence sufficient to convict accused on the first count, he could not be legally convicted in respect of the third count because the entry in ledger No.2 was made by a clerk, Acquah, who was not called as a witness. We are of opinion that there is no substance in this submission; accused was the accounts manager, and evidence was produced showing the system of the accounts which was adopted by the firm; according to that system ledger No. 2 should show an entry similar to the entry in the stores transfer book; ledger No. 2 was admitted in evidence and the same entry appears; the entry speaks for itself, and there was no necessity for the clerk who wrote it to be called as a witness. In Rex v. Oliphant, 1905, 2 K.B. 67, the accused was charged with an offence under section 1 of the Falsification of Accounts Act, 1875, an offence corresponding with the offence under section 283 (1) of the Criminal Code; in that case it was contended on behalf of the prisoner that the fact that entries in the book were made by a person other than the prisoner prevented the case from coming within the statute; it was held, however, that the accused was rightly convicted. In that case Lord Alverstone, C.J., referring to the judgment of Lord Coleridge, C.J., in Reg. v. Butt, 15 Cox, 564, stated that the latter case was the authority for showing that an omission of an entry made by an innocent person under the direction of another is an omission by that other within the meaning of the statute. In the present case the accused, as accounts manager, knew the system of the accounts, and when he gave Ofori the instructions to debit the kerosene to the watchmen's expenses account in the stores transfer book he must have known and intended that the entry would necessarily involve a corresponding entry in ledger No. 2 and the omission of a true entry in ledger No. 8. The false entry in the stores transfer book and the corresponding entry in ledger No. 2 and the omission to enter in ledger No. 8 are each an offence within the meaning of section 283 (1) of the Criminal Code committed by the accused through the innocent hands of others.

For the above reasons we dismiss the appeal.

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