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27.02.2006 Crime & Punishment

Ata Ayi jailed for 70 years

Ata Ayi jailed for 70 years
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Accra, Feb. 27, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court on Monday found Aryee Aryeetey, alias Ata Ayi and three others guilty for conspiracy and robbing an Accra-based firm of 70 million cedis at gunpoint.

Ata Ayi is to serve a 70-year jail term, while his accomplices, Roger Koblah Agbodogah, alias Roger, Raymond Ameh and Samuel Kweku Annan, alias Sammy Tugah, were convicted to 69 years each. They had all pleaded not guilty.

Handing down the sentences at a packed court, the judge, Mr Justice P. Baffoe Bonney said he took into consideration the number of years the convicts had been on remand.

He declared that from the way the convict committed the crime, they were prepared to kill to get the 70 million cedis. The court noted that if the witnesses involved had not run for their lives, "one would guess what would have happened". Justice Bonney said the court considered the grave nature of the offence committed by the accused persons and decided that they should be kept away from society for a long time.

The sentence would also serve as deterrent to others. Meanwhile counsels for the accused have declared their intention to appeal against the decision of the court. Defending the various charges levelled against Ata Ayi, the court noted that though he filed an alibi he failed to provide his witness. It said Ata Ayi in his statement indicated that on that fateful day, he was with his wife and two children and wondered why he would go for one Imaa as an alibi. He also failed to provide the police with her house number.

Questioning Aryeetey's denial of his nickname, "Ata Ayi," the court noted that he never objected to it until when the case was advancing. "When the case was initially called he never denied his nick name but responded to it whenever the case was called."

In the case of Annan, he did not file his defence. The court also noted that he also denied being identified as Sammy Tugah and attributed it to a mistaken identity.

The court, however, disclosed that Annan's girlfriend in her evidence admitted that her boyfriend was known as Sammy Tugah. During a police search in his room, they found documents bearing the name. The court found that he voluntarily gave his statement to the police and he never made any of his statements under duress. In the case of Agbodogah, he also told the court that he resided in Togo. He claimed he was sick and was discharged by a traditional healer before being picked up by the police.

The court noted that witnesses for Agbodogah gave conflicting dates on which he had been with them.

Ameh's story was not different from the rest of the accused persons the Judge said, adding he said he was in Nigeria but failed to provide witnesses to deny or affirm it.

Summing its evidence, the court declared that charge of conspiracy and robbery had been proved as Sammy Tugah, during a mini-trial, divulge how they undertook the crime.

Earlier, the defence counsel had prayed the court to hand down reformative sentences, as the accused persons were first offenders who were married with children and wives.

Prosecuting Mrs Evelyn Keelson of the Attorney General's Department reminded the court of the sentence allotted to the offence of robbery. The case of the prosecution was that on October 14, 2003, Mr Bernard Boadi Agyeman, Managing Director of Prism Consult Limited, sent one of his workers Ilaisu Mamudi to cash a cheque of 70 million cedis from the Opeibea House Branch of the Standard Chartered Bank, near Kotoka International Airport.

The prosecution said after cashing the money, which was put in a bag, Mamudu saw one Isaac Yanney, the Managing Director of Investhec Company Limited, who said he had an appointed with Mr Agyeman at his office at Dzorwulu.

Mr Yanney therefore offered Mamudu a lift in his car and the money cashed was put into the boot.

On their way to the office the convicts who were using a salon car trailed their vehicle till they got to the office in Dzorwulu. The prosecution said as soon as they parked their vehicle, the convicts parked behind them, got off from their car and started shooting indiscriminately.

The accused persons ordered their victim and others to run away from the scene of risk being shot.

The prosecution said the convicts fired several times at the boot to force it open, took the bag containing 70 million cedis and fled. On December 18, 2003 Sammy Tugah and Agbodogah were arrested on a tip-off and during interrogation mentioned Ameh and Ata Ayi as their accomplices. 27 Feb. 05