Reference: 19/2002

Judgement Details

Judgement Type
Linked Case

Keywords / Summary

Kif diga` din il-Qorti kellha l-opportunita` li tosserva fis-sentenza taghha fl-ismijiet The Republic of Malta v. Kandemir Meryem Nilgum and Kucuk Melek tal-25 ta' Awissu 2005, meta l-Qorti Kriminalitigi biex taghti s-sentenza taghha wara l-verdett tal-gurija, ma hux mehtieg li din toqghod taghti ragunijiet dettaljati ghal kif waslet ghax xi piena partikolari jew ghall-quantum ta' dik il-piena (sia jekk din tkun ta' prigunerija u sia jekk tkun wahda pekunjarja). Anqas ma hemm xi htiega li kullsottomissjoni maghmula min-naha jew minn ohra tigi ripetuta fis-sentenza, jew li jsir xi kumment partikolari dwarha, b'mod li tigi espressament akkolta jew skartata. Inoltre kien gie osservat f'dik l-istess sentenza li fuq appell mill-piena din il-Qorti bhala regola ma tirrimpjazzax il-piena moghtija mill-ewwel Qorti b'dik li kieku hija - cioe` din il-Qorti - kienet taghti f'dawk ic-cirkostanzi kemm-il darba ma jkunx jirrizulta li l-piena moghtija mill-ewwel Qorti kienet b'xi mod “wrong in principle” jew “manifestly excessive”. F'dik is-sentenza, in fatti kien inghad testwalment hekk:

“the Criminal Court is not obliged to give detailed reasons explaining either the nature or the quantum of the punishment being meted out, or to spell out any mathematical calculations that it may have made in arriving at that quantum. Although the determination of the nature and the quantum of thepunishment is, of its nature, the determination of a question of law - see Sections 436(2) and 662(2) of the Criminal Code - all that is required is that the Court state the facts of which the accusedhas been found guilty (or, as in the present case, the facts to which he/she has pleaded guilty), quote the relevant provision or provisions of the law creating the offence (which provisions generally also determine the punishment applicable), and state the punishment or other form of disposal of the case. Unless expressly required by law to spell out in detail something else - as for instance isrequired by Section 21 of the Criminal Code or by the first proviso to subsection (2) of Section 7of the Probation Act, Cap. 446 - the above would suffice for all intents and purposes of law. The principle nulla poena sine lege does not mean or imply that a Court of Criminal Justice has to go intoany particular detail as to the nature and quantum of the punishment meted out, or, where the Courthas a wide margin of discretion with various degrees and latitudes of punishment, that it has to spell out in mathematical or other form, the logical process leading to the quantum of punishment. This is also the position in English Law. As stated in Blackstone's Criminal Practice 2004 :

““Save where the statutory provisions mentioned below apply, there is no obligation on the judge to explain the reasons for his sentence. However, the Court of Appeal has encouraged the giving of reasons, and has indicated that that should certainly be done if the sentence might seem unduly severe inthe absence of explanation.It has been held that failure by the sentencing court to give reasons when required to do so does not invalidate the sentence.although the failure may no doubt be taken intoaccount by the appellate court should the offender appeal. Where the sentencer does give reasons and what he says indicates an error of principle in the way he approached his task, the Court of Appeal sometimes reduces the sentence even though the penalty was not in itself excessive. Similarly a failure by the judge to state expressly that he is taking into account any guilty plea, although contrary to [statutory provision], does not oblige the Court of Appeal to interfere with what is otherwise an appropriate sentence.”

“This Court is in full agreement with the principles stated above. Indeed, it is highly recommendable that, when the law provides for a wide margin of discretionin the application of the punishment, reasons, possibly even detailed reasons, be given explaininghow and why the court came to a particular conclusion.”

U f'dik is-sentenza din il-Qorti kompliet hekk:

“This Court can find no valid reason why the Criminal Court should necessarily have applied the reduction by two degrees, as opposed to a reduction by one degree, which appears to have been the case. It is clear that the first Court took into account all the mitigating as well as the aggravating circumstances of the case, and therefore the punishment awarded is neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive, even when taking into account the second and third grounds of appeal of appellant Melek. As is stated in Blackstone's Criminal Practice 2004 (supra):

““The phrase ‘wrong in principle or manifestly excessive' has traditionally been accepted as encapsulating the Court of Appeal's general approach. It conveys the idea that the Court of Appeal will not interfere merely because the Crown Court sentence is above that which their lordships as individuals wouldhave imposed. The appellant must be able to show that the way he was dealt with was outside the broad range of penalties or other dispositions appropriate to the case. Thus in Nuttall (1908) 1 Cr AppR 180, Channell J said, ‘This court reluctant to interfere with sentences which do not seemto it to be wrong in principle, though they may appear heavy to individual judges' (emphasis added).Similarly, in Gumbs (1926) 19 Cr App R 74, Lord Hewart CJ stated: ‘.that this court never interferes with the discretion of the court below merely on the ground that this court might have passed a somewhat different sentence; for this court to revise a sentence there must be some error in principle.” Both Channell J in Nuttall and Lord Hewart CJ in Gumbs use the phrase ‘wrong in principle'. In more recent cases too numerous to mention, the Court of Appeal has used (either additionally or alternatively to ‘wrong in principle') words to the effect that the sentence was ‘excessive' or ‘manifestly excessive'. This does not, however, cast any doubt on Channell J's dictum that a sentence will notbe reduced merely because it was on the severe side - an appeal will succeed only if the sentence was excessive in the sense of being outside the appropriate range for the offence and offender in question, as opposed to being merely more than the Court of Appeal itself would have passed.”

This is also the position that has been consistently taken by this Court, both in its superior as well as in its inferior jurisdiction.

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