29th April 2017
Legal Aid Board (LAB) Helps Free Six Troubled School Children a Day!!
By a press release (13/03/17)
The Legal Aid Board has scored major success in providing legal help to six children in courts by securing their freedom in a single day.
Reports say, it happened on Monday, 6 March 2017 when the six were charged with offences ranging from assault to wounding with intent, wounding and assault and unlawful possession. (Pictured: Jamesina L. King, the former boss of LAB).
According to the Juvenile Lawyer for the Board, Joel Deen-Tarawally, four of the accused were discharged, one was acquitted and discharged and another was acquitted on one count and convicted on another.
One of the four discharged is a school girl charged with wounding with intent. Lawyer Deen-Tarawally applied for her discharge for want of prosecution. He drew the attention of the court to the repeated absence of the Prosecuting Counsel and witnesses to testify in the matter. The application was upheld by Magistrate Otto During. Prior to the discharge, Defence Counsel Deen-Tarawally secured bail for the accused on 13 February 2017.
In an interview with the girl during pre-discharge briefing at the offices of the Board, she said she is a pupil in one of the secondary schools in Brama Lane. She said she was arrested on the 28 November 2016 for wounding a boy. She said the matter was reported to the Kissy Mess Mess Police Station by the boy’s sister. According to the girl, she spent several days in police cell before the matter was charged to court.
Another accused, a seventeen year old Junior Secondary School pupil in one of the schools in Fourah Bay in the East of Freetown. He was charged with unlawful possession of a mobile phone. He was arrested along Kissy Road on 10 February 2017 for stealing a mobile and taken to the Ross Road Police Station.
The accused was discharged after being cautioned by Magistrate Otto During of the Juvenile Court No. 8 as a result of the plea in mitigation by the Board’s Defence Counsel Deen-Tarawally. The accused had earlier on pleaded guilty to the allegation.
Defence Counsel, Deen-Tarawally made another plea in mitigation for a sixteen year old from Guard Street and its environs who had pleaded guilty to wounding with intent. The accused was cautioned and discharged.
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has urged the kids to return to their respective schools the next day. “You should make sure you go to school every day, study hard and do all your assignments and respect your teachers. Education will never fail you. It will make you a better citizen,” she encouraged the children.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles seized the opportunity to call on all the relevant Ministries, Non-Governmental Organisations and agencies to provide the kid with the necessary support. “We will help you track the children in their respective communities so that you can provide them the necessary support to rebuild their lives and help them not to re-offend,” the LAB boss noted.