High Court quashes deputy head’s rob­bery con­vic­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News/worldwide -

his con­vic­tion and sen­tence.

The judge said the lower court was mis­di­rected in its rul­ing.

“I take the view that the court a quo mis­di­rected it­self by fail­ing to con­sider all the ev­i­dence in or­der to de­ter­mine whether there was proof be­yond rea­son­able doubt. The court a quo er­ro­neously looked at the ev­i­dence im­pli­cat­ing the ap­pel­lant in iso­la­tion, at the ex­pense of the ex­cul­pa­tory ev­i­dence,” said Jus­tice Takuva.

He said the mag­is­trate re­lied on spec­u­la­tive ev­i­dence of the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer.

“The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer did not carry out thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tions. This is, how­ever, not sur­pris­ing in view of his base­less con­clu­sion that this was a staged break-in by the ap­pel­lant. The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer did not bother to take pho­to­graphs at the scene, he never con­sid­ered search­ing for fin­ger prints or tried to search for a spoor leav­ing the premises,” said Jus­tice Takuva.

“Un­for­tu­nately the be­mused court fell for the trick and took the bait, hook, line and sinker, side-step­ping the more prob­a­ble con­clu­sion that the proved facts did not ex­clude other rea­son­able in­fer­ences.”

Jus­tice Takuva, who was sit­ting with Jus­tice Nokuthula Moyo dur­ing the crim­i­nal ap­peals court, set aside both con­vic­tion and sen­tence.

“The ap­peal is al­lowed and both con­vic­tion and sen­tence are hereby quashed and set aside. The trial court’s ver­dict be and hereby re­placed by the ver­dict that the ac­cused is found not guilty and ac­quit­ted,” ruled the judge.

Zhou, in his grounds of ap­peal, ar­gued that he was con­victed on the ba­sis that he was in pos­ses­sion of ad­min­is­tra­tion block door keys and safe keys when the money was stolen.

He said his con­vic­tion was also based on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence yet there were in­con­sis­ten­cies in the ev­i­dence pre­sented be­fore the court.

The court heard dur­ing the pe­riod ex­tend­ing from Fe­bru­ary 24, 2012 to April 1, 2012, Zhou who was the deputy head­mas­ter at Chizungu High School, re­ceived money as pay­ment for ex­am­i­na­tion fees from the school clerk.

He was sup­posed to bank the money the fol­low­ing day.

The court heard that on April 2, he staged a break-in be­fore re­port­ing the mat­ter to the po­lice and lied that the school safe had been bro­ken into. The money and cash de­posit book were miss­ing.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions by po­lice led to the ar­rest of Zhou af­ter a cash de­posit book was re­cov­ered by his maid. — @ mash­nets

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