THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
IN THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA SITTING AT ARUA
CRIMINAL CASE No. 0270 OF 2018
UGANDA ….….……………….….…….….….….….…..…………….… PROSECUTOR
OKELLO SIMON ………………….…………….……..……………………… ACCUSED
Before: Hon Justice Stephen Mubiru.
SENTENCE AND REASONS FOR SENTENCE
This case has come up today 23rd November, 2018 in a special session for plea bargaining. The accused is indicted with the offence of Aggravated Defilement c/s 129 (3) and (4) (a) of The Penal Code Act. It is alleged that on 7th April, 2018 at Olano Agung village, in Gulu District, the accused performed an unlawful sexual act with Akello Flavia, a girl aged 7 years.
When the case was called, the learned State Resident Attorney, Ms. Catherine Nakaggwa has reported that she successfully negotiated a plea bargain with the accused and his counsel. The court has invited the State Attorney to introduce the plea agreement and obtained confirmation of this fact from defence counsel on state brief, Mr. Silver Oyet Okeny. The court has ascertained that the accused has full understanding of what a guilty plea means and its consequences, the voluntariness of the accused’s consent to the bargain and appreciation of its implication in terms of waiver of the constitutional rights specified in the first section of the plea agreement. The Court being satisfied that there is a factual basis for the plea, and having made the finding that the accused made a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent plea bargain, and after he has executed a confirmation of the agreement, has gone ahead to receive the agreement to form part of the record. The accused has then been allowed to take plea whereupon a plea of guilty has been entered.
The court has invited the learned Resident State Attorney to narrate the factual basis for the guilty plea, whereupon she has narrated the following facts; on 7th April, 2018 at around midnight at Agun village within Gulu District, the victim aged 7 years old was in the house sleeping with her siblings while her mum had gone to a drug shop. The accused sneaked into the house and boxed the siblings. He carried her to the stream and had sexual intercourse with her. The victim reported to her grandmother where she spent the night and the following day the mother reported to the police post. He was arrested, examined and found to be 29 years old and normal mental status. The victim was found to be 7 years old with fresh bruises in her private parts and a ruptured hymen. The respective medical examination reports too have been admitted as part of the facts.
Upon ascertaining from the accused that the facts as stated are correct, he has been convicted on his own plea of guilty for the offence of Aggravated Defilement c/s 129 (3) and (4) (a) of The Penal Code Act. In justification of the sentence of nine (9) years’ imprisonment proposed in the plea agreement, the learned Resident State Attorney has stated that; the age difference is 13 years. He was violent towards a seven year old victim and he was a neighbour, hence breach of trust. Learned defence counsel has stated the key mitigating factors considered to have been that; he is a first offender. He has readily pleaded guilty and at the police he admitted. He is heavily remorseful and wishes to begin a new life. The accused was under the influence of alcohol. He promises to be a good person and the youth would learn from him. By way of allocutus, the accused has stated that; he prays for forgiveness.
I have reviewed the proposed sentence in light of The Constitution (Sentencing Guidelines for Courts of Judicature) (Practice) Directions, 2013. I have also reviewed current sentencing practices for offences of this nature. In this regard, I have considered the case of Agaba Job v. Uganda C.A. Cr. Appeal No. 230 of 2003 where the court of appeal in its judgment of 8th February 2006 upheld a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment in respect of an appellant who was convicted on his own plea of guilty upon an indictment of defilement of a six year old girl. In the case of Lubanga v. Uganda C.A. Cr. Appeal No. 124 of 2009, in its judgment of 1st April 2014, the court of appeal upheld a 15 year term of imprisonment for a convict who had pleaded guilty to an indictment of aggravated defilement of a one year old girl. In another case, Abot Richard v. Uganda C.A. Crim. Appeal No. 200 of 2004, in its judgment of 6th February 2006, the Court of Appeal upheld a sentence of 8 years’ imprisonment for an appellant who was convicted of the offence defilement of a 13 year old girl but had spent three years on remand before sentence. In Lukwago v. Uganda C.A. Crim. Appeal No. 36 of 2010 the Court of appeal in its judgment of 6th July 2014 upheld a sentence of 13 years’ imprisonment for an appellant convicted on his own plea of guilty for the offence of aggravated defilement of a thirteen year old girl. Lastly, Ongodia Elungat John Michael v. Uganda C.A. Cr. Appeal No. 06 of 2002 where a sentence 5 years’ imprisonment was meted out to 29 year old accused, who had spent two years on remand, for defiling and impregnating a fifteen year old school girl.
A plea of guilty offered readily before commencement of trial usually results in a discount of anywhere up to a third of the sentence that would otherwise be imposed after a full trial. Having considered the sentencing guidelines and the current sentencing practice in relation to offences of this nature, I consider the sentence proposed in the plea agreement entered into by the accused, his counsel, and the State Attorney to be appropriate.
In accordance with Article 23 (8) of the Constitution and Regulation 15 (2) of The Constitution (Sentencing Guidelines for Courts of Judicature) (Practice) Directions, 2013, to the effect that the court should deduct the period spent on remand from the sentence considered appropriate, after all factors have been taken into account, I observe that the convict has been in custody since 12th April, 2018 and I hereby take into account and set off seven months as the period the convict has already spent on remand. I therefore sentence the convict to a term of imprisonment of eight (8) years and five (5) months, to be served starting today.
Having been convicted and sentenced on his own plea of guilty, the convict is advised that he has a right of appeal against the legality and severity of this sentence, within a period of fourteen days.
Dated at Gulu this 23rd day of November, 2018 …………………………………..
23rd November, 2018.