The State v. Ohene-Kesson and Mensah

[1961] SCGLR 708-716
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In June 1960, Wilhelmina Richter was admitted to Korle Bu Hospital. She was suffering from general peritonitis and told the doctors that an operation had been performed on her to procure an abortion. Ms. Richter had become pregnant in February of 1960 and, according to her testimony, approached Mr. Kesson, then a senior master for the training of nurses at Korle Bu Hospital, to help her to get an abortion. She alleged that he agreed to assist her by providing her with injections to end the pregnancy. When his attempt to induce abortion failed, she allegedly wrote to Mr. Mensah to ask him to perform an abortion. The surgery performed by Mr. Mensah also failed, and she was taken to the hospital where she was treated.

Mr. Kesson and Mr. Mensah were arrested and convicted for attempt to commit abortion and the commission of an abortion. The court drew upon the evidence of the doctor who performed surgery on the woman after the partial abortion was completed as well as a confession of one of the men that he sent the woman, Wilhelmina Richter, to the doctor to have an abortion preformed.

Kesson and Mensah appealed their conviction, alleging that the verdict was unreasonable and was not supported by the evidence.

The Court dismissed the appeals and upheld the convictions of both Kesson and Mensah.

The Court held that, regarding Kesson, his testimony on the stand as well as a letter he had written that corroborated Wilhelmina’s allegations, provided sufficient evidence to uphold his conviction.

The Court held that, regarding Mensah’s defense, the only issue of fact was whether he tampered with Wilhelmina’s pregnancy or not. The Court found that the testimony of another doctor and the letter written by Kesson provided sufficient corroborative evidence to uphold the conviction.

“In the case with which we are concerned therefore, the medical evidence of Wilhelmina's condition as testified to by Dr. Quartey standing alone, afforded adequate corroboration of her allegation against the appellant Mensah that it was he who, accepting the letter exhibit E, had tampered with her pregnancy in an effort to destroy it, treating her in the manner as she described. But when the medical evidence is reinforced by (a) the evidence of the letter exhibit E, (b) evidence of his conduct and utterances as deposed to by his friend Antwi - note for example, Antwi's [p.715] evidence that when he got to Akuse and saw Mensah, the latter told him that there was a certain girl who had brought a letter from Kesson, and Mensah asked him to take the girl back to Accra ‘as he had finished everything’- and (c) his own evidence as to how he eventually arranged and brought the girl in an ambulance to Accra, it seems to us that the case against him also is decidedly cogent and strong. In our considered view therefore the respective convictions of the two appellants were each amply warranted by the evidence on record.” Page 10.