The King v. Ranhamy.
[Court of Criminal Appeal.]
Present : Howard C.J. and Hearne and Keuneman JJ.
THE KING v. RANHAMY. .
59—M. C. Anuradhapura, 2,708.
Charge of murder—Weak case for the Crown—Evidence led in appeal—Effectof such evidence is to create doubt as to the guilt of accused—Verdictset aside.
Where in a charge of murder the evidence for the prosecution is of acontradictory character and fresh evidence is led in appeal, the Courtof Criminal Appeal would have to consider whether the jury would•have believed the fresh evidence or there was a strong probability thatthey would have believed' it and further whether the evidence wouldhave raised such a doubt in the minds of the jury as to have acquittedthe accused.
> 2 Cr. A. R. 89 .
HOWARD CJ.—The King v. Ranhamy.
PPEAL from a conviction before a Judge and jury in the FirstMidland Circuit.
V. T. Panditha Gunawardene, for appellant.
Nihal Gunasekera, C.C., for the Crown.
September 23, 1940. Howard C.J.—
In this case we are confronted with a somewhat difficult task. Ineffect we are called upon to constitute ourselves the jury, and to give adecision on facts which are deposed to partly by witnesses who gave theirevidence before the Judge and Jury and partly by witnesses who gave theirevidence in this Court. Thus we have not had the advantage, so far asthe first class of witnesses are concerned, of seeing them in the witnessbox and judging from their demeanour as to whether they are speakingthe truth.
In this task imposed upon us we have first of all given careful consider-ation to the case put forward by the prosecution. This case depends,first of all, on the evidence of the injured man, and secondly on that oflhis brother, the witness Sohendirala. So far as the evidence of theinjured man is concerned we have to bear in mind that he was veryseverely injured on the head as a result of the assault. In fact, hisinjuries were of so grave a character that nineteen days after the assaulthe was adjudged a lunatic.
When we come to the consideration of his evidence we find that thereare several discrepancies which are unexplained. To the Judge and juryhe says that his wife got out of the house and that he heard her speakingto the accused for some time. Then the accused is stated to have suddenlyattacked him with an axe on the head, and there is no mention in thisevidence of the accused’s brother, Kalu Banda.
On the other hand his brother Sohendirala in giving evidence says thatwhen the injured man called out he heard the cry, “ Ranhamy (theaccused) and Kalu Banda are cutting me ”. It is true that when thequestion was put to him again he said, he heard the cry that Ranhamywas cutting. Then Sohendirala says that when he went to see the injuredman, Kalu Banda and Bendi Etani, that is the woman Menikhamy,were with him. To the Vel-Vidane when he arrived at the house theinjured man said that the accused and Bendi Etani had cut him—that'is to say, that the accused and his mistress had cut him. To the Arachchiwhen he arrived, he said that the accused and Kalu Banda had enteredthe house and the accused cut him with an axe. In his dying depositionhe said, “ Ranhamy cut me on my head with an axe. Kalu Banda alsocame with Ranhamy. Kalu Banda abused me and came to strike mewith a club and I.was cut about three or four times on my head. KaluBanda struck me with a club towards my legs”.
It would thus be seen that there are a number of discrepancies andinconsistencies in the evidence of the chief witness, the injured man',which may possibly be explained by the fact that he had received severeinjuries on the bead and was not really in a fit' state to remember whatexactly did take place. The evidence therefore, which is put forwardby the Crown cann. t be described as being of the strongest character.
WIJEYEWARDENE J.—Ekanayake v. Deen.
That being the character of the evidence we have to consider what isthe effect created by the fresh evidence which was produced before thisCourt to-day. It would not be right or proper that we should quash theverdict of the jury merely because we took a different view of the evidenceand would have come to a different conclusion ourselves on that evidence.What we have to consider is whether, first of all, the jury would havebelieved the fresh evidence or there was strong probability that theywould have believed it, and further whether it would have raised such adoubt in the minds of the jury that they must have acquitted the accused.
Without saying that the evidence produced before this Court to-day wasuntainted and was so steeped with the impression of truth that it mustbe believed, we think that having regard to the rather weak case putforward by the prosecution, it would have tipped the balance in favour,of the accused at the trial and created such a doubt in the minds of thejjury that if they did their duty properly they would have acquitted the>accused.
In these circumstances the appeal must be allowed and the accuseddischarged.
THE KING v. RANHAMY