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When Sentencing, The Period A Convict Spent In Lawful Custody In Respect Of The Offence Before Completion Of His Trial Shall Be Taken Into Account In Imposing The Term Of Imprisonment – The Court Of Appeal

In the appeal judgment of the case of Sebandeke Abdu v Uganda on the 20th of June 2019 arising from criminal appeal No. 287 of 2010.


The background of the case is that the appellant was charged, tried and convicted of rape contrary to sections 123 and 124 of the Penal Code Act and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. The facts were that the appellant had raped a woman over 80 years of age. During the trial the appellant had spent two years and seven months on remand. The appellant aggrieved with the High Court, appealed to this court and the issue was, whether the learned trial judge erred in law sentencing the appellant to an illegal, harsh and excessive sentence of 20 years not taking into account the period spent on remand?    

The learned justices took in consideration the duty of the first appellant court which is to retry matters of facts by freshly scrutinizing the evidence and reach its own conclusions on any factual controversies for resolution. The court also noted there should be an issue of consistency in the sentences of rape cases as raised by the appellant’s counsel. There is need to maintain a uniformity of sentences as most rape sentences were ranging from 10 to 15 years of imprisonment. The main issue was resolved as regards to the law, Article 23 (8) that informs judges to take into account the period spent on remand before sentencing, and if he had, the appellant was still a child before the conviction hence making the sentence lesser. The court allowed the appeal and set aside the sentence of the High Court as an illegality and imposed a sentence of 15 years as appropriate under the circumstances. The court also deducted 2years and 7months that the appellant spent in lawful custody making his sentence 12years and 5months imprisonment which shall run from the date of conviction on 15th October 2010.