High Court quashes deputy head’s robbery conviction
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