Court name
Supreme Court of Uganda
Judgment date
16 June 2017

Kwamusi Jacob v Uganda (Criminal Appeal-2014/22) [2017] UGSC 33 (16 June 2017);

Cite this case
[2017] UGSC 33
Short summary:

Criminal law

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THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF UGANDA AT KAMPALA
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.22 OF 2014.

 

 

 

[CORAM: J. TUMWESIGYE, S. ARACH-AMOKO, A.NSHIMYE, F. MWONDHA,

                10                                        L .TIBATEMWA-EKIRIKUBINZA, JSC

 

 

 

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BETWEEN

KWAMUSI JACOB:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: APPELLANT

VERSUS

 

UGANDA....................................................................... RESPONDENT

 

 

 

 

[Appeal from the decision of the Han. Rubby Aweri Opio, Kenneth
Kakuru and
F.M.S. Engonda Ntende, JJA, Criminal Appeal No. 0203
of 2009 dated 24th October, 2014]

JUDGMENT OF THE COURT

This is a second appeal from the decision of the High Court delivered by Lugayizi J on 9th July 2009 Vide criminal case No 1343 of 2007.

The background facts:

        The appellant was convicted by the High Court of Manslaughter on his own plea of guilty and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. He appealed against sentence to the Court of Appeal. The ground of  appeal was that the time period he had spent on remand was not

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considered by the High Court trial judge before passing the

sentence.

In resolving the above ground, the Court of Appeal inter alia stated
that:

 

 

 

Although the learned trial judge stated that he had taken into

         10           account all mitigating and aggravating factors before passing the sentence, we do not think this was sufficient to cover Article 23(8) of the Constitution.

It is clear that the learned trial judge did not specifically state
that he had taken into account the period the appellant had

         15          spent on remand. We accordingly find that the learned trial
judge erred when he sentenced the appellant to ten years
imprisonment without taking into account the time he had spent
on remand as required under Article
23(8) of the Constitution.
The sentence is therefore illegal and a nullity and we hereby set

         20                        it aside.

Having set aside the sentence of ten years, the Court of Appeal in
exercise of its powers under
Section 11 of the Judicature Act
imposed a fresh sentence of 12 years after taking into account the
remand period.

        25         It is this sentence that led the appellant to appeal to this Court on
the following ground:

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 5 Ground of appeal:

 

The Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law when
they enhanced the prison sentence of the appellant from ten years
to twelve years.

Representation:

        10        At the hearing of this appeal, the appellant was represented by
Counsel Andrew
Ssebugwawo on state brief while the respondent
was re
presented by Mrs Alice Komuhangi Khauka, Senior Principal
State Attorney in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

15 Counsel for the appellant adopted written submissions he filed.

The respondent's counsel on the other had made viva voce
submissions in reply to the appellant's submissions.

Appellant's submissions:

Counsel for the appellant stated that Section 132 of the Trial on

        20        Indictments Act, Section 34 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act
and Rule
32(1) of the Court of Appeal Rules regulate the exercise
of criminal appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal
. That the
above provisions of law give the Court of Appeal power to confirm

or vary a sentence of a lower court but does not give court the

25  power to enhance sentence.

Counsel argued that the Court of Appeal's sentence of twelve years
amounted to enhancement of sentence. That such enhancement
was irregular because there was no cross appeal from the

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~. - 5  Respondent. -In: support of this argument, he relied on the

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authorities of Mugasa Vs Uganda SCCA No 10 of 2010 and Busiku

Vs Uganda SCCA No. 33 of 2011.

In further argument that the enhancement was irregular, counsel

         10 stated that the practice of enhancing. sentences by courts has the
effect
. of, 'discouraging convicts from lodging appeals for fear that
their
sentences-may be enhanced. Counsel therefore prayed that the
appeal be allo
wed and the enhanced sentence be set aside.

15  Respondent's submissions:

Counsel for' the respondent submitted that there was no
enhancement of' sentence made by the Court of Appeal. That
enhancement
. can only be done where there is a legal sentence and
not on an illegal sentence like the present appeal
. It was Counsel's

          20        argument that the Court of Appeal having set aside the High Court
sentence for failure
' to consider the remand period, it imposed a
fresh sentence. That on this premise
, there was no enhancement
made.
..

In conclusion, the respondent prayed that the appeal be dismissed
25  and the sentence of the Court of Appeal be upheld.

Analysis and Decision of Court.

The central issue in this appeal is whether Court of Appeal on its
own
volition had powers to enhance sentence even where there is no

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~- - cross appeal. The appellant's contention is that the Court of Appeal
erred in enhancing his sentence from ten years as meted
out by the
High Court to twelve years in absence of a cross appeal fr
om the
respondent. The Court of Appeal held as f
ollows:

"Taking all the above into account and the fact that the

          10                Appellant had been on remand for a period of one and half
years before conviction
, we think that a sentence of twelve
years would meet the ends of the justice.

We accordingly set aside the sentence imposed by the trial
court and substitute it with a sentence of twelve years

          15                        imprisonment to run from the date of conviction".

The appellant, in support of his argument that the Court of Appeal's
sentence amounted to enhancement of sentence, relied on the
authorities of
Mugasa vs. Uganda SCCA No.1 0 of 2010 and Busiku
vs. Uganda SCCA No 33 of 2011.

          20       In Mugasa Vs Uganda (supra), the Court of Appeal enhanced the
sentence of the appellant from 17 years to 25years. On appeal
against enhancement, this Court was of the view that much as the
Court of Appeal had the power to vary a sentence according to

Section 132(1) (d) of the Trial on Indictment Act, proper

          25        sentencing procedure had to be followed when varying sentences
imposed by lower courts.

In Busiku vs. Uganda (supra), the Appellant's sentence of 12 years
was enhanced to 20 years. The appellant challenged the
enhancement in the Supreme Court. The Court in allowing the

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5    appeal relied on its decision in weitire Asanisio vs. Uganda SCCA

No. 11 of 2010 and Mugasa vs. Uganda (supra) and held that no
universal standard could be set on the procedure appellate courts
should follow when varying a sentence imposed by the lower courts.

The Court however, maintained the view in Mugasa vs. Uganda that
the Court ought to give the appellant advance notice before a
sentence is enhanced to be afforded a hearing on the new sentence,
in the interest of justice.

We note that much as the above authorities are quite authoritative

          15        on the issue of enhancement of a sentence by an appellate court,
they are irrelevant to the issue pertaining to the present appeal.
The authorities are distinguishable from the circumstances and
facts presented in the appeal before us.

          20        In the present appeal, the Court of Appeal found that the High
Court did not take into account the time spent on remand which is a
constitutional imperative when sentencing. Article 23 (8) of the
Constitution provides:

"Where a person is convicted and sentenced to a term of

          25              imprisonment for an offence, any period he or she spends in
lawful custody in respect of the offence before the
completion of his or her trial shall be taken into account in
imposing the term of imprisonment.
(Emphasis ours).

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".

5 The Court of Appeal having found that the High Court judge failed
to take into account the period of one and a half years the appellant
spent on remand, declared the sentence illegal. This court has
recently held in
Rwabugande Vs Uganda SCCA No. 25 of 2014,
that, a sentence arrived at without taking into consideration the

           10        period spent on remand is illegal for failure to comply with a
mandatory constitutional provision.

We note that the effect of declaring a sentence illegal is that no
sentence stands thereafter. The appellate court can thus invoke i
ts
sentencing powers as a court of original jurisdiction to impose a

            5   new sentence. This is what the Court of Appeal did. In exercise of
its powers given under
section 11 of the Judicature Act and after
taking into account the period the appellant spent on remand,
imposed a new sentence of
12 years - which is appealed against.
What the appellate court would have done was to either remit the

           20        case to the High Court so that the sentencing procedure is reopened
or the Court of Appeal would have invoked its powers under the

Judicature Act.

However before invoking the said powers, natural justice demands
that before an appellate Court imposes a sentence which is even

           25       harsher than the one being set aside, it has to give the appellant an
opportunity to be heard on the proposal to impose a higher
sentence. The Court of Appeal having failed to observe this
fundamental requirement of the Constitution, the sentence it
imposed was a nullity. The Court of Appeal with due respect, set

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- 5       aside an illegal sentence of the High Court and substituted it with
another illegal one.

For that reason, the sentence cannot be allowed to stand. We
therefore allow the appeal and set aside the sentence of 12 years
imposed by the Court of Appeal.

           10 Having done so, we note that on 7/7/2009 when the appellant was
sentenced by the High Court, the prosecution told court that the
appellant had been on remand of 1
72 years. A copy of the charge
sheet on the file is dated
2pt November, 2007.

The appellant has been in custody for a period slightly beyond 9
15 years. Considering that he could have benefited from earnings of
remission in prison, he could have completed his original sentence
of 10 years and released.

In the circumstances, we do not find it appropriate to send the file
back to the High Court for consideration of the period he was on

 remand before resentencing.

We therefore order the immediate release of the appellant if he has
not already been released.

 

 

 

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Dated at Kampala this 16th day of June 2017

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STELLA ARACH-AMOKO

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT.

 

 

 

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AUGUSTIN E NSHIIMYE

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT.

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FAITH MWONDHA

               25       JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT .

              ................... .............................. .

LILLIAN TIBATEMWA-EKIRIKUBINZA
30   JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT.

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