By Michael Ofulue, Osogbo
An Osun State High Court yesterday sentenced the proprietor of Hilton Honours Hotel, Ile-Ife, Ramon Adedoyin, to death by hanging over the murder of a post-graduate student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Timothy Adegoke.
The death sentence was issued by Osun State Chief Judge, Justice Adepele Oyebola Ojo while delivering judgement on the murder case.
In her judgment on Tuesday, she said circumstantial evidence proved that Adedoyin was responsible for the murder of Adegoke, who was declared missing after lodging in the Hilton Hotel in November 2021.
Ramon Adedoyin and six of his employees were arrested which led to their arrest and prosecution on 18 counts charge bordering on murder.
In the judgment Justice Ojo, held that the circumstantial evidence available to the court pointed to the killing of Adegoke while he was a guest at the hotel owned by Adedoyin.
She stated that Adedoyin’s decision not to enter the witness box did not help him, as the circumstantial evidence had shifted the burden of proof on him which he failed to discharge.
The judge added that Adedoyin’s refusal to testify meant he agreed to the murder charge brought against him by the prosecution, and dismissed the alibi pleaded on his behalf by his counsel, who stated that the hotel owner was in Abuja for several days around the time of Adegoke’s death.
In addition to Adedoyin, Adeniyi Aderogba, and Oyetunde Kazeem, two other employees working at the hotel were also condemned to death for the murder.
Meanwhile, three other defendants in the case, namely Magdalene Chiefuna, Lawrence Oluwole, and Adedeji Adesola, were discharged and acquitted of the various charges brought against them by the prosecution.
The court concluded that the crimes they were accused of did not align with the evidence presented by the prosecution.
Adegoke’s murder in 2021 attracted widespread criticism from civil rights groups, including the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), who demanded that justice be served on his killers.
An autopsy report had linked Adegoke’s death to intense haemorrhage (bleeding) due to ‘severe traumatic injuries’.
Although the autopsy could not pin down the actual cause of his death because of his body’s ‘advanced decomposition’ before the inquest was done, the pathologist said there was no natural disease in the deceased’s body to cause or accelerate death or to cause him to collapse (and die).
Adegoke was buried amid tears in January 2022.