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High Court Appeal Against Sentence Allowed

HMA v PGT 2020

An appellant, PGT, had successfully appealed his sentence but failed in his bid to quash his conviction at the High Court of Judiciary. PGT was found guilty of three sexual offences, two against his teenage nephew and one against his wife. The appellant was sentenced to ten years imprisonment after being found guilty after trial. However, the appellant argued that there was no corroboration and therefore the finding of guilt should be overruled by the Appeal Court.

The appellant’s defence team at the trial made a no case to answer submission but the judge refused this stating there was corroboration. The appellant argued that there was not enough of a connection between the charges to allow corroboration. The appellant also argued that the judge did not correct a remark made about corroboration made in the Crown’s speech to the jury and also in their own charge to the jury. However the Appeal Court did not agree stating: “In this case, for the application of mutual corroboration, where there was a gap of several years between the offences, the similarities in the place and circumstances of the offences required to be such as allowed the jury nevertheless to draw the appropriate inference relative to a course of criminal conduct persistently pursued. As detailed by the trial judge, there were such similarities, notably the familial circumstances of the offences and the fact that they took place in the appellant’s home. There were other similarities and dissimilarities, but it could not be said that on no possible view could the jury draw the appropriate inference. In the event they did so.”

However, the appellant did successfully appeal in relation to sentence. The appellant argued that the ten-year custodial sentence was excessive. It was accepted the appellant had a low intelligence and had previously spent time in mental hospitals and had a learning disability. The appellant argued that an extended sentence should not have been imposed as he was little risk to the public. The appeal court agreed on this point stating: “Were it not for the significantly low level of the appellant’s intelligence, the period of custody selected by the trial judge could not be regarded as other than appropriate. Once the appellant’s level of intellectual functioning is taken into account, the court is satisfied that the sentence is excessive.” Therefore, the sentence was quashed and replaced with an eight-year imprisonment sentence.

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