A 36 year old woman, Stella Gilbert became a pitiable sight on Tuesday when she received a death sentence pronounced on her by an Ikeja High for stabbing a housewife, Mrs. Stella Godwin to death during a fracas between the two six years ago.
The incident occurred on June 22, 2013 at No. 59, Ojora St., Ajegunle, a densely populated slum in Lagos State.
The trial judge, Justice Raliat Adebiyi used the opportunity to call on government to provide adequate housing and livable quarters for the people aside the “face me I face you” slums that many people live in, saying the living conditions of the people s accountable for the fight which led to the stabbing of the victim and the death sentence passed on the convict.
Justice Adebiyi pronounced the death sentence after finding Mrs. Gilbert guilty of the offence.
Specifically, Justice Raliat found her guilty of a count charge of murder brought against her by the Lagos State government.
The offence according to the prosecution contravenes Section 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.
In her judgment, 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.
According to the judge, “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, the defendant 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 equally declared that the defendant’s testimony contradicted her confessional statement.
The trial court said the testimony of the defendant that she was attacked by the deceased only amounted to self defence.
Justice Adebiyi said, “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.”