29.07.2006 Crime & Punishment

Court Frees Anglican Bishop, 4 Others

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THE former dean of the St. Andrew Anglican Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Jacob Welbourne, and three other members of the church who were jailed last week Friday for contempt, were yesterday freed by the trial High Court here.

A fifth person, Kofi Abbey-Hart, who was not in court when the four were sentenced and had a bench warrant issued for his arrest, was in court yesterday and was also freed.

This was after they went to purge themselves of the contempt of court slapped on them on July 21.

They each apologised to the court, presided over by Mr Justice David Ofosu Quartey. "We sincerely regret our actions and promise never to repeat any such acts in the future," they stated.

The three sentenced with Father Welbourne were Daniel Assafuah, Emmanuel Papa Assan and Augustus Quaye.

Justice Quartey said he accepted their plea on condition that "they shall publish copies of their affidavits in an edition of the Daily Graphic and make two radio announcements on Sky FM, a Takoradi-based radio station."

He further ordered that they pay the fines imposed on them on July 21 and execute the bail bond.

"When the above is fully applied, the jail term will be suspended and the contemptnor will be released from prison and reappear on October 16, 2006," the Judge ruled.

Justice Quartey gave Rev. Fr. Welbourne 14 days to vacate the Cathedral premises after his release from prison. The court also froze the bank account of the Parochial Church Council, the governing body.

The five had filed a motion on Notice on July 24, asking the court to review their case or in the alternative suspend the execution of their sentence.

In their application, they said: "The court authoritative interpretation of the said undertaking has demonstrated our superficial and erroneous understanding of the said undertaking and brought us to the realization of our folly.

"We sincerely regret our actions and promise not to ever repeat any such actions in future."

Rev. Fr. Welbourne said he deeply regreted his conduct stating, "I pray in remorse and contrition to be given the chance to purge the contempt."

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