THE QUEEN (RESPONDENT)
RUFUS EGBE (APPELLANT)
(1961) All N.L.R. 496
Division: Federal Supreme Court
Date of Judgment: 11th August, 1961
Case Number: FSC 915/1961
Before: Brett, AG. C.J.F.
Bellamy, AG. C.J. Lagos
Appeal from the High Court.
The appellant was convicted of the murder of his wife. In his evidence before the trial court the appellant admitted the killing and said that he had killed her upon her telling him, for the first time, that he was not responsible for her pregnancy, which he knew to be the case, and that he was not the father of her last child. The trial Judge did not believe the accused's evidence.
Confession of adultery by wife to her husband, who thereupon killed her, is not sufficient, without more, to reduce a charge, which would otherwise be murder, to manslaughter.
Cole for the Appellant.
Eboh, Senior Crown Counsel, for the Respondent.
Hurley, C.J.N.R. (delivering the Judgment of the court):-The appellant was convicted of the murder of his wife. We dismissed his appeal on 9th August, 1961, and the following are our reasons.
The deceased's death was the result of a deep cut on her neck which could have been caused by a sharp instrument. She was eight months pregnant at the time. Giving evidence in his defence, the appellant said he had struck her with a hatchet. He also admitted that he had killed her. He made the same admission in a statement which he made to the police after her death. He said "I....beat her with the back of a hatchet. I did not cut her at all..I..beat her with the hatchet at the neck, she fell and died." There was medical evidence that the deceased's injury could not have been caused by the back of a hatchet.
In his statement to the police the appellant said that he was insane when he killed the deceased. He did not make that defence at the trial, but in his grounds of appeal he says that no reason can be adduced for his having killed the deceased save that he lost his mind. The learned trial Judge considered the defence of insanity in view of what the appellant had said in his statement to the police, and found that insanity had not been proved. On the evidence, that finding cannot be disputed.
At the trial, the appellant said that he had killed the deceased upon her telling him, for the first time, that he was not responsible for her pregnancy, which he said he knew to be the case, and that he was not the father of her last child. The learned trial Judge disbelieved the accused, and observed that, even if the accused had been believed, a confession of adultery without more is not sufficient to reduce a charge which would otherwise be murder to manslaughter. That also cannot be disputed.
It is not possible to take exception to the learned trial Judge's findings, and learned Counsel assigned to argue the appeal for the appellant had nothing to say in support of it. Accordingly, we dismissed the appeal.