Josephine Panyin Mensah, the lady at the centre of the fake kidnapping and pregnancy case at Takoradi in the Western Region, has been saved from jail.
Although she was found guilty of publication of false news and was supposed to serve a three-year jail term, Josephine was slapped with a GH¢7,200 fine instead because she is currently pregnant.
Josephine Panyin Mensah was found guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to 600 counts, which is 3 years imprisonment.
However, on her charge of deceiving a public officer, Josephine was acquitted and discharged.
Josephine Panyin Mensah was charged with two counts of deceiving a public officer contrary to section 251 (B) of the Criminal office’s Act as amended by Act 1035, 2020 and Publication of false news with intent to cause fear and panic contrary to section 208 subsection 1 of the criminal offences Act.
While reading his judgment, His Worship Michael Kwodjoe Ampadu, the Presiding Judge of the Takoradi Habour Circuit court A, said there were no grounds to convict her on count one which is deceiving a public officer since her husband is not a public officer.
“The grounds for the first count of deceiving a public officer cannot be supported by the law. The accused didn’t tell the truth that she was pregnant, but the prosecution didn’t prove that this untruth was told by the accused. The deceit was also directed at the husband and not the police. The husband is not a public official, therefore nobody can tell me that she is guilty on this count”, he ruled.
On the second count which is publication of false news, His Worship Michael Kwodjoe Ampadu, said he wanted to sentence her to the 3-year maximum term to send a strong message to the public, but the law also disallows the sentencing of a pregnant woman to prison terms, hence the GH¢7,200 fine.
“It is the police who published the false news, but at the instance of the accused. Until the police found her, the police knew nothing about the pregnancy but were only looking for a missing person. The publication was made by you through your confession statements. The court convicts you on the second count, which is publication of false news, a demeanour which makes one liable to a sentence of not less than 3 years. However, the pregnancy test which was done on 15th November 2022 at Takoradi Hospital proved positive. The law says you can’t sentence a pregnant person to prison hence I cannot sentence you to 3 years but to fine you 600 penalty units which is GH¢7,200,“ he added in his judgment.
1. Her husband Michael Simmons informed the police that her wife, a 27-year-old Josephine Panyin Mensah, a resident of Columbia in Takoradi went missing on 16th September 2021 around 5am while jogging and with 10-months pregnancy.
2. She was found on 21st September 2021 by a carpenter near a Jehovah Witness Church at Axim in the Western Region.
3. She alleged that she was kidnapped, kidnappers carried out forced delivery and the baby was taken away.
4. She was taken to the Axim Government hospital and later to the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital.
5. Before the police released a statement or spoke, the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah and his assistant went ahead of the police alleging that Josephine was not pregnant and faked her kidnapping and that the Minister even paid the ransom Josephine and her team demanded.
6. While at the Effia Nkwanta Hospital, police claimed that she admitted to faking her pregnancy in the presence of doctors, her husband and her mother.
7. She was charged with two counts of deceiving a public officer contrary to section 251 (B) of the Criminal office’s Act and Publication of false news with intent to cause fear and panic contrary to section 208 subsection 1 of the Criminal Offenses Act.
8. When proceedings began at the Takoradi Circuit A, Axim Government Hospital officials who first attended to her in their witness account denied any post-pregnancy signs or physical injuries/marks of violence found on her, which was also confirmed by the Effia Nkwanta hospital officials that she was not pregnant.
Josephine and her mother however denied the police claims that she admitted to faking her pregnancy to the police.
8. She was granted bail on 27th September 2021 in the sum of GH¢50,000 with two sureties and one to be justified as she denied all charges.
10. She was finally released to her family after satisfying the bail condition on 14 October 2021.