It is an experience that nobody deserves, but for Mr Charles Twumasi, who was wrongfully jailed for 15 years on allegations of defiling a 12-year-old girl, it did not only destroy him as a person; he also lost seven years of the formative stages of his daughter.
“It is the worst thing that could ever happen to a father. I had a two-month-old baby when I was arrested and jailed for a crime I never committed. I also lost my job and I am still jobless,” he said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
Although he appeared calm and relaxed, Mr Twumasi said he was not feeling calm inside and revealed that the experience had made him very skeptical about people.
“Because of my experience, I don’t believe anybody again. When people get closer to me, I feel they want to put me in trouble. I suspect the slightest thing as trouble and because I don’t want to be in trouble again, I stay away,” he said.
Mr Twumasi described his experience as being through hell and expressed the wish that nobody would experience what he had been through.
“Prison life was horrible. The food served there should not even be given to animals. Initially, family members will visit you but after some time the visitation will stop and you are left in misery,” he said.
Mr Twumasi, who was an accounts clerk at a private school in Accra, went to work in November 2012.
He did not get the opportunity to go back home to see his baby girl. Instead, he was arrested and charged for defiling a 12-year-old pupil of the school.
The police accused him of defiling the girl in September 2012 when she went to pay her feeding fee at the school’s accounts office.
He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in hard labour by the Accra Circuit Court, but that sentence was increased to 15 years by the Accra High Court, when he appealed against the Circuit Court’s decision.
He was on remand and in prison for seven years until he was discharged and acquitted on February 13, this year in a judgement read by Mr Justice Dennis Adjei, who presided over the Court of Appeal panel, with Justices Cecelia Sowah and Amadu Tanko as members.
Twumasi was set free after the three-member panel of the court unanimously held that there was no evidence that linked him to the said defilement and also that some of the evidence was deliberately distorted to aid his conviction.
“The system let me down”
Although he was grateful that the Court of Appeal found merits in his appeal and acquitted him of a crime he never committed, Mr Twumasi chastised the country’s criminal justice system for messing his life up.
He accused the police of not conducting proper investigations to ascertain the true facts of the case.
“The investigators did not help the course of justice. The investigator did not even go to the school to find out if I had been sexually harassing school kids. No medical test was conducted; the only thing the investigator relied upon to build a case was what the complainant who was the girl’s mother said,” he said.
When asked if he planned on seeking compensation, he answered in the affirmative and said his lawyer was currently working on it.
Under the country’s laws, a person who is jailed for a crime he did not commit can apply to the Supreme Court for the court to make a determination and award him appropriate compensation that deems fit.
On November 8, 2012, the state initiated criminal proceedings at the Accra Circuit Court against Nash and Twumasi for allegedly defiling the 12-year-old girl.
Nash absconded and never appeared before the court to answer the charges levelled against him.
Twumasi, who appeared before the court, pleaded not guilty and denied ever defiling the girl.
Per the facts, as presented by the prosecution, in June 2012, the girl went to use the school’s urinal, and on her way to her classroom, Nash spotted her and instructed her to go and clean the teachers’ washroom.
According to the prosecution, as soon as the girl entered the teachers’ washroom, Nash too went there, locked the door and had sex with her.
He allegedly warned the girl not to disclose what he had done to her to anybody, else she would not see her mother again.
The prosecution added that in September 2012, the girl went to the accounts office to pay her feeding fee, where she met Twumasi, who made her sit on his laps and had sex with her.
The facts added that the girl’s sister noticed changes in the girl’s body and reported it to their mother, who took the girl to a clinic on November 1, 2012, where a test conducted on her revealed that she was five months pregnant.
In its judgement upholding Twumasi’s appeal, the Court of Appeal made a determination that there was no evidence on record which showed that the alleged defilement by Twumasi in September 2012 actually happened.
Rather, it said, the evidence on record rather proved that the victim was defiled in June 2012, a crime which was allegedly committed by a teacher of the school, known as Nash.
According to the court, there was medical evidence, by way of the victim’s pregnancy, to prove that the defilement took place in June 2012, allegedly by Nash, but “there is no direct evidence, such as medical evidence, to prove that the victim was defiled in September 2012”.
Again, it held that the investigator of the case never testified that the victim was defiled in September 2012, while the headmistress of the school also testified that she remembered the girl’s mother went to the school to complain about Nash defiling her daughter.
“We hereby find and hold that there is no scintilla of evidence to prove that the appellant (Twumasi) defiled PW2 (victim). Furthermore, there is no evidence to prove that PW2 (victim) was defiled in September 2012,” the court held.