Stella Gilbert, a 36-year-old lady resident in Ajegunle wailed uncontrollably on Tuesday few minutes after Justice Raliat Adebiyi pronounced the death sentence on her for stabbing a fellow housewife, Mrs Stella Godwin to death during a fracas.
The deceased is the mother of three. She knelt down on the floor, wailing, “Mummy ejo, eshanu me, I don’t want to die ooo, wetin I do” forcing prison officials and court orderly to physically carry her away and downstairs in the premises. But she continued wailing, telling all passersby what would become of her. It took special skill by the prison officials to persuade her to accompany them to the Maximum Security Prison.
The judge found her guilty on one count charge of murder brought against her by the Lagos State government. Stella Gilbert stabbed Mrs Stella Godwin with a knife to death during an argument on June 22, 2013 at No. 59, Ojora St., Ajegunle, Lagos contrary to section 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.
While delivering the judgement in the suit, Justice Adebiyi held that the prosecution proved the murder case against the defendant with overwhelming evidence that during a fight with her neighbour, the defendant stabbed the deceased to death in the chest with a knife.
She added that prosecution witnesses evidence were also overwhelming and that the defendant herself confessed that she only stabbed the deceased once.
“The knife was tendered as an exhibit. The defendant, in this case, used a knife on the deceased, by any standard, a knife is a lethal weapon. The evidence of PW2, the cousin of PW1 (the deceased’s husband) and of PW3 the woman police officer was that the deceased was stabbed in the chest.
“The Coroner’s report tendered in evidence by PW4 confirmed that the deceased was stabbed in the chest. The chest is where the heart is, by stabbing the deceased in the chest, a very fragile part of the body, clearly intended to cause the most harm to her. The death of the deceased occurred as a result of the grievous injury caused by the defendant. The defendant is culpable of the offence of murder .”
Justice Adebiyi further held that defendant testimony contradicts her confessional statement.” The defendant testimony was that she was attacked by the deceased, it amount to self defence .She did not prove that she was in free for all when she stabbed the deceased.
“From the evidence, the fight took place in a room, though no evidence was given of the size of the room, it could not have been a very large room. The evidence was that the deceased and defendant lived in a house consisting of rooms occupied by families popularly called ‘face me I face you’.
“As an aside, it is worrying that the level of violence, unnecessary animosity and death which occurs amongst our citizens as a result of living together in close proximity without sufficient personal space and boundaries remain unabated. There is clearly a need to improve social housing and living conditions. The court hopes that this message will be conveyed to the necessary authorities through the prosecutors who have the responsibility to prosecute these cases and should be able to provide vital statistics,”
In his allocutus, her counsel pleaded that court should temper justice with mercy. Added that she single and be given an opportunity of second chance. He said she has lost both parent and has gone through a lot in prison. But the prosecution counsel, Mrs Opeyemi Olugasa said the law gives mandatory sentence and punishment to offender, urged the court to sentence her accordingly.
“The defendant must suffer the consequence of her action. The defendant Stella Gibert is found guilty of the one count charge of murder. You are hereby sentenced to death. May the giver of soul forgives you.”
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