An Ikeja High Court in Lagos State on Thursday reserved judgment until July 7 in the case of a couple, Fortune and Stephen Nwankwo, charged with involuntary manslaughter of the housemaid, Joy Adole.
They are facing amended eight-count bordering on conspiracy, involuntary manslaughter and accessory after the fact.
The couple, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
Justice Oyindamola Ogala adjourned the case for judgment after prosecution and defence counsel adopted their final written addresses.
Defence counsel, Prof. Paul Ananaba (SAN), in adopting his final written address, urged the court to dismiss the suit and discharge the defendants.
Ananaba argued that the charge was based on suspicion.
He said: “My lord, an amended charge was brought in January 17.
“Prosecution increased the counts to eight.
“It is on these eight counts that we drew our final written address.
“Prosecution called eight witnesses in which five out of them were hearsay.
“It has not proved the case beyond reasonable doubt.
“The case is based on suspicion and not on facts.
“There was no direct evidence.”
The counsel urged the court to rely on a medical certificate, which showed uncertainty in the cause of the death of the deceased.
He argued that there were no confessional statements from the defendants or pictures to show that they committed the offences.
Ananaba argued: “My lord, prosecution tried to confuse the court that it was my client that took the body for embalmment, while police said they were the ones that took the body for embalmment.
“This is a case that should not have been brought to court.
“My clients have gone through horror.
“I urge your lordship to discharge and acquit the defendants.”
State counsel, Yusuf Sule, in his final written address, however, urged the court to convict the defendants as charged.
He argued that there was circumstantial evidence before the court to prove that the case of the prosecution.
Sule said: “My lord, the Supreme Court has said that one of the ways to prove a case is circumstantial evidence, which can be used to prove this case.
“All the facts before this court proved that the deceased was in the custody of the defendants.
“The pictures the defence counsel is talking about have been tendered as evidence before the court.
“The defendants called the attention of the police and said the deceased died by hanging but the medical doctor told the court that there was no sign she died by hanging.”
Sule also argued in the final written address that the defendants did not inform the family of the deceased that she had died.
NAN reports that prosecution alleged that the defendants committed the offences on April 20, 2020 at 18, Ogundola Street, Bariga, Lagos State.
Defence had made a no-case submission when prosecution closed its case on October 12, 2021 after calling eight witnesses.
The court turned down the application on November 24, 2021 for lack of merit and asked the defendants to open their defence.
On January 17, 2022, the defendants told the court that the day that preceded the 19-year-old housemaid’s death, she was caught with noodles and was beaten.