Ghanaian teacher gets freedom after being jailed 20 years for defilement he didn’t commit

After spending six out of twenty years imprisonment, a Ghanaian teacher who was sentenced wrongly for defilement he did not commit has now regained freedom.


This follows a successful appeal against the earlier court judgement that convicted and sentenced Maxwell Bernieh in 2016.

Speaking to Connect FM after regaining his freedom, the innocent teacher recounted that his troubles began in 2015 after he secured employment as a teacher in one of the Junior High Schools in the Greater Accra Region.

“I was excited to have secured the job because I had been unemployed for some time. Just one month after being in the school, I was supervising an examination when some officers came to arrest me for no reason. I got to the Police station and I was accused of defiling a student I did not even know.

“I looked into the face of the girl and I had not even met her before because she was not in my class. I still did not understand what was happening and the case eventually proceeded to court,” quotes him as saying.


Following a long trial with the case being adjourned several times, Bernieh who pleaded not guilty to the charges proffered against him was found guilty by the first court.

“Anytime the case is called, the girl in question will not show up and I will be told she is undergoing an operation. I still did not know what I had done to the girl that is making her go through an operation.

“After about seven months of trial, I was sentenced to 20 years in July 2016. I told the judge I was innocent but she did not listen. She only told me to file an appeal. I was sent to Nsawam,” Bernieh recalled.

However, thanks to a private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu who heard about his plight and helped appeal against the court’s decision.


The appeal hearing took many months to come to a close, at the end of which the judge overturned Bernieh’s conviction and sentence.

Her ladyship Justice Mary M.E Nsenkyere (Mrs) who presided over the appeal hearing ruled that the prosecution failed to prove Bernieh’s guilt sufficiently as required by law.

“The prosecution, therefore, failed to lead evidence to show that it was the accused person who defiled the victim. Having found that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused person had sexual intercourse with the victim, then it follows that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“This ground of appeal succeeds. With such a failure to establish the essential elements of the offence, it follows that the offence charged was not established against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt and he ought not to have been convicted.

“The result is that the appeal succeeds and the same is upheld. I hereby set aside the conviction and ultimately the sentence imposed on the appellant herein. The appellant is accordingly acquitted and discharged,” Justice Nsenkyere ruled, as quoted by


It remains to be seen if the innocent teacher will be compensated in any way for the reputational damage, the inconvenience of spending six years of his life in prison and so on.

Bernieh is just one of the many less privileged Ghanaians who are languishing in the various prisons across the country for crimes they did not commit. Some of them did not have the financial wherewithal to hire the services of a lawyer to defend them.


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