The Takoradi Harbour Area District Court presided over by Her Worship Angela Attachie has handed down a 24-month prison sentence to a notorious sea thief Thomas Mensah alias Papa Yalley.
Papa Yalley, 43, a fisherman and resident of Nkotompo in Sekondi, and four others have for months been stealing items from ships at the anchorage of the Takoradi Port.
Papa Yalley, who is suspected to be the leader of the gang, has been stealing electronics, paints and other valuables.
Prosecuting, DSP Isaac Apenteng of the Marine Police Unit in Takoradi said the Marine Police on 23rd March, 2019 had information from the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) control room that thieves had gone on board a UK-flagged vessel by name SEVEN PACIFIC, which was at the Takoradi anchorage and stole some items.
When a team from the Marine Police went to the crime scene, the same day, the captain of vessel SEVEN PACIFIC, Ben Kilgour, told them that the crew saw a blue speed boat with the inscription PM PRINCESS MARINE with four men on board very close to their vessel.
He said two of the men on board the speed boat, wielding offensive weapons, managed to board the SEVEN PACIFIC and broke into a container and stole one Siemens and one Panasonic laptops worth $4, 200 and escaped.
Upon investigations, the Marine Police apprehended the owner of the speed boat – one Linda Abena Armah – who confirmed that Papa Yalley hired her speed boat in the early parts of March under the pretext that he was going to supply food, fruits and drinks to vessels at the Takoradi Port anchorage.
DSP Appenteng said on 2nd April, 2019 a member of Papa Yalley’s crew David Kwofie was arrested and in his caution statement admitted to the crime.
Papa Yalley and David Kwofie were found guilty on five counts including conspiracy to commit crime, being on premises unlawfully, causing unlawful damage, carrying offensive weapons and stealing.
The rest of the gang Uncle Joe, Egya Kwamina and one Abraham are at large.
In an interview, Director at Marine Railway and Ports ACP Seidu Iddi said Papa Yalley and his team have been on their wanted list for close to a year following several complaints of thievery cases on vessels at anchorage.
“Since late last year there have been series of robberies at the anchorage of Takoradi Port; at least up to four of such cases. Two of the vessels were carrying paints. The problem is in some of the cases the captain and his crew had no clue as to who robbed them. But all indications are that this guy [Papa Yalley] and his gang are linked to these robberies”.
He said the arrest and subsequent sentencing of Papa Yalley and David Kwofie will be of great relief to vessel owners and the Takoradi Port.
“Currently, the Takoradi Port is listed as one of the high-risk ports for doing business. What this means is that critical steps must be taken or the port will suffer. So, the arrest and sentence of this guy [Papa Yalley] has brought a great relief to those of us who are in the maritime domain because at least now those criminal activities will stop.”
By Eric Yaw Adjei|3news.com|Sekondi-Takoradi|Ghana