64-Year-Old Man Jailed For 12 Months
…After Spending A Night In John Paintsil’s Deserted House
By Gifty Arthur
Under very bizarre circumstances, a 64-year-old man has been jailed for sleeping in an abandoned house, belonging to former Black Stars defender, John Paintsil, at Ajumako Besease in the Central Region.
Isaac Odoom, who until his incarceration by the Ajumako Magistrate Court, burnt charcoal for a living, was serving his prison sentence at the Winneba Local Prison in the Central Region.
He was accused of unlawfully breaking into the abandoned house through the window, after he and a friend had traveled to the community to burn charcoal, but did not have a place to lay their head when night came.
They were also accused of stealing a mattress, even though Mr. Odoom insists, there was no mattress in the room at the time they came to spend the night and, thus, slept on bare floor.
But the 64-year-old man, after the trial, was found guilty and fined GH₵1, 440 for trespassing and unlawful entry, but he could not pay to escape the imprisonment.
Consequently, he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment to offset the debt.
According to the convict, until their arrest, he was not aware the house was a subject of litigation.
Narrating his ordeal in an interview, Mr. Odoom said “Two days after I had left Besease for my hometown, I was informed that someone had been arrested for sleeping in John Paintsil’s house and the person mentioned my name as his accomplice.
We were charged with unlawful entry and trespassing on someone’s property. We were also accused of stealing a mattress. I pleaded not guilty to the charge of theft but pleaded guilty to the other charges. I was fined GHc1,440 but I couldn’t pay.”
According to a reportby Crime Check Ghana (CCF), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), under its Petty Offenders project, CCF, during one of its visits to prisons, chanced on the issue and intervened.
The NGO, used to be funded by late Black Stars forward, Christian Atsu Twasam, however managed to settle the debt through the benevolence of a Sweden-based Ghanaian footballer, Emmanuel Boateng.
Recalling his ordeal to the Crime Check team, Odoom, clad in his prison uniform, painfully said he had gone to Besease to burn charcoal.
When night fell, they wanted somewhere to lay their heads since he was new there, but had none. His friend then misled him to the said house belonging to the retired footballer.
Without suspecting any foul play, he followed him and even though he was uncomfortable when he asked them to use the window instead of the door, he took his friend’s explanation.
“We manage to go into the house through the window. We only went inside to sleep because it was late. We did not steal anything from the player’s house,” he claimed.
“I found out a day after we slept there. I’m from Ajumako but we went to Besease to produce charcoal. Normally, we sleep at the site we work, but because I was new to the village,I had to fall on someone. The person said we were going to sleep at a place so my assumption was that we were going to his house. When we got there, he asked that we use the window side, so I inquired from him and he explained that he was having issues with his mom and didn’t want her to see us. It was an abandoned house, so there was nothing in it,” he added.
He was charged on three accounts: stealing, trespassing and unlawful entry, of which he pleaded guilty to the last two.
Odoom pleaded not guilty to the charge of stealing and so was discharged. He was jailed 12 months after he was fined and he could not pay.
“The house was a subject of litigation so there was nothing in it. The player had sacked everybody from the house. Nobody lived in there so it was empty. There was nothing to pick from the house so we were innocently charged with theft,” he said.