Friday, September 17, 2004

A sufficient sentence?

Concern has been raised that Edwards' nine year sentence was too light. However the Judge gave his reasoning for the sentence in his decision which is available online.

According to the Court of Appeal, the best guidelines for appropriate manslaughter sentences in this country are found in the sentences for similar cases of manslaughter. The Crown sought a sentence of eight to twelve years while the Defence pleaded for four to five years. Judge Frater accordingly relied on the following cases, namely the Rota and Ali cases.

The Ali case concerned a youth killing his uncle after the latter made improper advances towards him. Ali was sentenced to three years (the prosecution sought six, the defence two). However the lightness of that sentence was due to Ali's youth (he was sixteen at the time), his character ("inexperienced and naive") and his lack of previous convictions, none of which are applicable to Edwards (who was 24, streetwise with 56 previous convictions).

I can't find much on the Rota case as the sentencing occurred in 1997. I assume from the suggested sentence by Edwards' lawyer that it was no more than four years. The relationship between the deceased and Rota was said by Judge Frater in her decision to be very similar. However Rota was also 19 at the time and had no previous convictions and so the sentence he received was not applicable to Edwards.

Aggravating the case were 1) the degree of violence used (forty blows to the head) 2) attempted strangulation 3) that the offence was committed while Edwards still subject to a sentence (technically this wasn't parole) 4) that Edwards committed the offence while he had just been released 5) the lack of attempt to call for help and 6) the theft of McNee's possessions. As a result, the Judge decided that the appropriate starting point was 10 to 11 years and took a little bit of time for Edwards' background (dire) and his limited remorse (The pre-sentence report indicated that Edwards felt no empathy for the victim and was more sorry for himself, as the wronged person).

Since the sentence is roughly what the Crown asked for, I don't see any prospect of an appeal.