Kidnapped Canadian girl identifies one suspect
Elvis Ojiyorwe, a suspect standing trial with three others on kidnapping charges, was identified by one of the Canadian girls abducted in Kumasi in June 2019.
The eleventh prosecution witness, Detective Corporal Augustine Dery, said Lauren Tilly was able to identify Ojiyorwe based on the pictures sent to her.
The police had sent pictures of the four accused persons (three Nigerians and one Ghanaian) and other persons arrested in connection to the crime.
The Canadian authorities who had received the request from the team of investigators here in Ghana are said to have mixed the pictures of similar black men to be shown to the girls.
Without any shred of doubt, “Lauren Tilly pointed Elvis Ojiyorwe as their captor”.
As part of the investigation, the police obtained statements from the victims (Lauren Tilly and Bailey Jordan Chilley).
Aside from the victims, some members of the victims’ families sent in their statements as well.
This was because the father of one of the girls, Derrick Chilley, said the first accused person Sampson Agharlor had demanded $800,000 as ransom.
The witness moved to tender the statements from the girls and their families as evidence to be accepted by the Accra High Court.
But the defence objected.
They argued on the basis that the said witness statements were a duplicate and not the original copy.
Victor Atsu Abada is counsel for Sampson Agharlor, and Yaw Dankwa is counsel for the remaining three – Elvis Ojiyorwe, Jeff Omarsar and Yusif Yakubu.
The Canadian girls left the country immediately after they were found, so the statements were taken through the Canadian authorities and thus the objection.
But prosecution led by Winnifred Sarpong put forward a strong case indicating that the request was sent to the Canadian authorities. Hence it was the original copy.
The trial judge Lydia Osei Marfo sided with the prosecution and admitted the evidence.
Detective Dery said investigations also revealed that the first accused person Samson Agharlor had lodged at the St Patrick Hotel at the time of the kidnapping and was visited often by the fourth accused, Yusif Yakubu.
He said the team went ahead to interrogate the Hotel Manager who identified the first accused, and the hotel logbook in which Agharlor wrote his name was obtained.
The police investigator moved to tender the records as evidence but met stiff opposition from the defence team.
“Nothing identifies it as the logging book from St. Patrick Hotel in Kumasi. It could be a logbook from any hotel at all. Even if so, the proper person to tender this is the person who made the recordings and not this witness,” Mr Abada pointed out.
Supporting his argument, Mr Dankwa indicated that the logbook does not serve any purpose since it had no name to show it was indeed coming from the said hotel.
“There is nothing in this document that tells us where this came from, and the witness is not the custodial of the book as he does not work there,” Mr Dankwa added.
Madam Sarpong said there was no basis for the objection.
“The witness told this court he visited St. Patrick Hotel, and it is there he retrieved the hotel logbook. The fact that the said book has no marking in it does not come in as it is relevant to our case and issues that the witness has testified about.
“Where the witness claims to have retrieved the book from should be a subject matter of their cross-examination and not that the evidence should be rejected. They also claim the witness is not the proper person to tender the book [but] that is wrong.
“The witness in the box is an investigator. In the course of his investigation, he gathered documents, took possession of physical evidence, which include the notebook that we are seeking to tender.
“By virtue of his role as the investigator, the witness is more qualified to tender the logbook he retrieved as part of his investigation,” she added.
The trial judge again sided with the prosecution.
The judge indicated that the witness had already informed the court that he was part of the team that investigated the case and retrieved the logbook.
“Since he (witness) has told this court he has knowledge about this book, he is qualified to tender the said book in evidence. Besides, the prosecution has indicated this book is relevant to their case.
“Whether this court would put any weight on it or otherwise counsel in the case shall be given an opportunity to subject the same to cross-examination,” she ruled.
The logbook has since been admitted as exhibit M.
The case continues on July 21, 2021. The eleventh prosecution witness will continue with his evidence-in-chief.
After that, counsels for the four accused persons will take turns to cross-examine him.
Four accused persons – Sampson Agharlor, Elvis Ojiyorwe, Jeff Omarsar and Yusif Yakubu – are standing trial for conspiracy charges to kidnap and kidnapping.
They have all pleaded not guilty.
The four are being held for their various roles in kidnapping Miss Lauren Patricia Catherine Tiley and Miss Bailey Jordan Chilley.
The two University of New Brunswick students were abducted on June 4, 2019, while volunteering for a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Kumasi.
They were rescued that same month, which led to the arrest of the suspects.
According to a news release from the Ghana Police Service, the two are believed to have been abducted at the Kumasi Royal Golf Club at about 8:25 pm.
Medical reports confirmed the girls were returned physically unhurt.
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