Should We Let A serial Rapist Go Scot Free?

Spread the love

By Stanley Alieke, Esq.

“It is better that ten guilty men should be set free than one guilty man to be convicted”.
Before we go down to the philosophical principle of this theory, let us first take it into consideration the fact that this theory had its root in the Bible.


In the book of Genesis 18 v 23-32 (KJV), this conversation ensued between Abraham and the Lord God:
And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

Expand Your Learning with E-Books on PrimsolLog in to and enjoy the best E-journals, textbooks, and many more

To subscribe to Primsol, go to

For further enquiries/assistance, send an email to [email protected] or call 08050298729

To attend the 2022 ǼLEX Annual Lecture, prospective attendees should click on


Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou de- stroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.

And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.

And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

In this above conversation, both Abraham and God is of the view that if there’s just one innocent person in the city, the Lord in his infinite mercy will not punish the entire city thereby also punishing the innocent, hence, it is better for ten or thousand of guilty men to go scot free than one innocent man be punished.

Williams Blackstone, a Law Lord, and a famous English jurist borrowed this principle from the Bible and expanded it into the English legal system.

Willam Blackstone in his book; “Commentaries on the laws of England, published in 1765-1769, postulated this principle that has come to be known as the Blackstone’s ratio, also known as Blackstone’s formulation:
“all presented evidence of felony should be admitted cautiously for the law holds that It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent person suffer”

Benjamin Franklin, an American jurist also adopted this principle and while introducing it into the American legal system stretched the theory and postulated thus;
“It is better that a hundred guilty people should escape than that one innocent person should suffer”.
This theory of the Blackstone ratio is what in no doubt has formed the bases of the principle on which the criminal justice system of most countries of the world is built; The principle of presumption of innocence of the accused, the principle of he who avers must prove, the requirement of a unanimous jury verdict in criminal trials, the principle of beyond reasonable doubt in criminal trials, the principle that once there’s ambiguity the court should decide in Favour of the accused all have its root in this theory of letting a guilty go scot free instead of punishing an innocent man.

This theory passes as a strong message that the government and the courts must always err on the side of caution in passing verdicts so as not to convict an innocent person. If there’s doubt or ambiguity as to the guilty or innocence of the accused, the court should apply leniency instead of punishment, ie, once there is any form of ambiguity or doubt in the legal proceedings as the innocence or guilt of the suspect, the court should err in the side of caution by presuming the suspect to be innocent and avoid convicting and punishing rather than presumption of guilt because “it is better that a guilty person escapes than an innocent getting punished”.

The defect to this theory of letting the guilty go free instead of punishing the wrong person is that it poses the philosophical question of; “will it still be better to let a serial rapist or a mass murderer or a suicide bomber etc, off the hook because the court is being lenient and extremely careful not to punish the wrong person”?

Your answer is as good as mine but  authoritarians (who are the major critics of this theory), jurists, law lords, social psychologists, etc have all by every stretch of imagination agreed that despite the defect of this theory, it is actually better for the society to let a guilty person go free than for an innocent to be punished for a crime he did not commit.

Call Bridget Edokwe Esq on 08060798767 or send your email to

[TRENDING]: Costs in Civil Proceedings is another best-selling book By Chike B. Okosa, PhD {ORDER NOW}

Get this book at the selling price of = N=10,000 per copy. Copies of the book may be ordered directly from the following book sellers: Abuja: Mohammed – 08072518081, Lagos : Ibidemi – 08051395562, Ajibode: 08034768357, Enugu : Loveth – 08037320902, Akwa Ibom : Helen – 08034086536

The book goes for N25,000. To order, please call 08035426089, 07065398107, send an email to or visit

Get ‘Personal Property Law in Nigeria’ By Chief Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN (FREE)

Click below to download FREE

This topical new book engages fully the knotty areas of Lawyer/client, Lawyer/court and lawyer/lawyer relations.

Price: N7,000

Contact: 08036064470, 08183531785


At a selling price of = N=10,000 per copy, copies of the book may be ordered directly from the following book sellers: Abuja : Mohammed – 08072518081, Lagos: Ibidemi – 08051395562, Ajibode: 08034768357, Enugu: Loveth – 08037320902, Ikot Ekpene: Helen – 08034086536

CLICK HERE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK Call: 08038784639 to get a copy handy now @ N5,000. The book is also available at the Nigerian Law School Book Bookshop Lagos, call the number to pick your copy


BESTSELLER: Commercial and Economic Law in Nigeria By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN [ORDER NOW] To ORDER click the link

Price – N20,000 only To Order – WhatsApp, text or call – 08037009616 Office – No 1 Dyaji Close, Rayfield, Jos

Buy the Book on Military Law, authored by a Veteran Military Lawyer, and launched personally by the then COAS.


Price: ₦15,000 or £20 per copy [Hard Back– 20 chaps/715 pages] Contact Information Email:, WhatsApp only: 0803-703-5989 Voice Call – Mobile: 0817-630-8030,+234-805-2128-456, +234-909-9651-401 Landline: 09-2913581, +234-9-2913499, +234-9-2919209 Office Address: 50 Julius Nyerere Crescent, [Next To The World Bank], Asokoro, Abuja – Nigeria. Bank Account Details; Bank Name: UBA Plc.; Account Name: International Dispute Resolution Institute; Account Number: 1014072579

To get a copy kindly Call 07044444777, 07044444999 & 08181999888 or visit us at: Investment House, 7th Floor, 21/25 Broad St., Lagos. Buy online @

Available at Frank Agbedo & Co. Crown Chambers. 5th floor, left wing, Nipost Building, Lagos Island, Lagos State. Tel: 08033254471, 09077950432 Email:

The price of the book is fifteen thousand Naira (N 15,000) only.
Call any of the numbers below to place your order 08052508679, 08106743227; or visit, for more information.

Price: 15,000 or £20 per copy [Hard Back– 21 chaps/700 pages]: Contact:, WhatsApp only: 0803-703-5989 : Voice Call – Mobile: 0817-630-8030, 0909-965-1401; 0705-767-0347; 0912-173-4691 : Landline: 09-2913581; 09-2913499

Steps To Subscribe To the Court of Appeal Reports Nigeria

%d bloggers like this: