A 36-year-old woman, Stella Gilbert, on Tuesday collapsed in an Ikeja high court after she was sentenced to death for stabbing her neighbour, Mrs Stella Godwin, to death during a fight at their residence in Ajegunle, Lagos.
The convict had stabbed the deceased on the chest and arm with a knife during a fight over who should possess a bench left behind in the premises by a former neighbour.
Murder contravenes Section 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011 and is punishable with death by hanging.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi had sentenced Gilbert after dismissing her claim of self defence, noting that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“The defendant in this case used a knife on the deceased; by any standard, a knife is a lethal weapon.
“The evidence of the Prosecution Witnesses proved that the deceased was stabbed on the chest.
“The chest is where the heart is; the defendant, by stabbing the deceased on the chest, a very fragile part of the body, clearly intended to cause the most harm to her; the death of the deceased occurred as a result of grievous injury caused by the defendant. The defendant is culpable of the offence of murder,” she said.
The judge remarked that a lot of cases in courts were caused by animosity and violence due to individuals living in close proximity in the metropolis.
She said that the situation called for improvement in social housing in Lagos State.
Counsel to Gilbert, Mr Y. E. Yusuf, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy as she had been in detention for six years.
Yusuf added that Gilbert lost her parents and her brother while in detention and that she was not harbouring the intent to murder when the incident occurred.
However, the judge passed death sentence on Gilbert.
“The defendant, Stella Gilbert, is hereby sentenced to death. May God that grants life have mercy on your soul,” she said.
On hearing the sentence, Gilbert collapsed on the dock. Wailing loudly, saying “please ma, temper justice with mercy, why me oh, only me…”
She was immediately carried out of the courtroom by a mobile policeman and a prison warden to avoid disruption of proceedings in other courtrooms.
According to the state counsel, Mrs O. R. Ahmed-Muili, the convict murdered Godwin, mother of three, on June 22, 2013, at No. 59, Ojora St., Ajegunle, Lagos.