Regina vs Albert William Granon- 2 July 2019

Sheffield Crown Court

2 July 2019

Sentencing Remarks

On 26 July 2018, you shot and killed a 6-year-old boy. His name was Stanley Metcalfe and he was your great-grandson.

You ended a young life and you brought lifelong grief and misery to his parents and to the whole of his family. Tragically, this happened when the family had gathered at your home to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the death of your son, Andrew. 26 July this year will mark the anniversary of two deaths instead of one.

Stanley Metcalfe had asked to see your air rifle and you showed it to him. It was a powerful weapon, with a discharge pressure of between 15 and 16 foot-pounds, which had been increased at your request when you bought it 5 or 6 years earlier. Given its power, it was what is known under the regulations as “specially dangerous”. That meant that it was unlawful for you to have this weapon in your possession without a certificate, and you have pleaded guilty to the offence of possession of an uncertified firearm, contrary to section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968. I order that the air rifle and pellets are forfeited.

You and Stanley Metcalfe were in the kitchen when you fired a single pellet. It entered his body in the area of his stomach from a distance of only a few feet. It passed through his body and went out the back. As it did so, it severed the iliac artery in his lower abdomen, causing significant loss of blood. His mother heard him say, “Why have you shot me, Grandad?” or something similar.

His mother saw that he was in pain. A 999 call was made, an ambulance and paramedics arrived and he was taken to hospital, but, despite everyone’s best efforts, he was dead within 2 hours.

Stanley Metcalfe’s parents, sister and grandmother have made very moving statements in which they have set out better than I ever could the terrible effect which your actions have had on their lives. His father, Andrew, said, “I had a little boy who I loved and cherished and loved spending my life with”. His mother, Jennifer, your granddaughter, said, “I cannot describe the pain of living every day without Stanley”.

It is not suggested that you intended to shoot your great-grandson. You were charged with, and have pleaded guilty to, manslaughter on the basis that your conduct was grossly negligent, as it undoubtedly was.

No sentence I impose can bring Stanley back. No sentence I impose can undo what you have done and heal the rifts in your family. All I can do is impose what the law considers to be the appropriate sentence for a case of this nature. I do that by following the guidelines for sentencing in cases of manslaughter. They say that the first thing I have to do is to consider the level of your culpability. There are number of factors to consider:

(1) There is the obvious consideration that this was a weapon which you knew was capable of inflicting fatal injuries. Indeed, you bought it to kill rats and squirrels and the like.

(2) You ought not to have had this weapon in the first place. You were acting unlawfully simply by having it in your possession. Moreover, you knew that. Yet you regularly carried it in public, round the local fields.

(3) You told the police that the reason why you did not apply for a certificate was that you knew that you would not be given one because you have limited use of your right hand, as a result of an accident some years ago, and you have to use your left hand to fire the weapon. Quite literally, a weapon of this kind is less safe in your hands than in the hands of someone who does not have your injuries.

(4) You had not taken any steps to store the weapon safely. You had left it behind a curtain in the hallway for 7 or 8 weeks.

(5) It was loaded. It seems that it was loaded when you left it behind the curtain.

(6) You were handling this powerful, loaded weapon in a confined space in the presence of both a 6 year old boy and your wife.

(7) The safety catch was off.

(8) Your finger was on the trigger.

(9) The rifle was pointing towards, or in the direction of, Stanley Metcalfe. When you were interviewed by the police, you claimed that the pellet had ricocheted off the floor, but the forensic evidence shows that that cannot have been right, as you have now accepted.

(10) You pulled the trigger.

In all the circumstances, what you did was obviously a very dangerous thing to do. Why on earth did you do it? When you were interviewed by the police, you said that you were firing the weapon into the floor to make sure that it was unloaded, but you accept that that was not right. Today, you told me through your counsel that you squeezed the trigger to see if the rifle was loaded, but that you were not deliberately pointing it at Stanley Metcalfe.

There is a strong argument that this case falls in category B in the guidelines, because you showed a blatant disregard for a very high risk of death. However, both counsel agreed that it fell within the next category down, category C. I accept that, but on the basis that this case is at the top end of that category. The guidelines say that in category C the range is from 3 to 7 years’ imprisonment and the starting point is a sentence of 4 years’ imprisonment. However, the factors which I have just set out would justify increasing your sentence well above the starting point, to or towards the top of the range. In addition to your culpability, I have to consider the suffering which you caused to Stanley Metcalfe in the last two hours of his life and the fact that your actions put your wife at risk as well as him.

However, I also have to consider the mitigating factors. A probation officer has provided a report which helps me in doing that. You are a 78 year old man with no previous convictions. You worked for a lifetime in the shipbuilding industry. Many people have spoken of your good qualities, which include being a loving and caring individual. I have read your statement and I readily accept that your remorse for what you did to your great-grandson is genuine and profound, although you have not succeeded in conveying that to your grandaughter and her family. You have a long-standing heart condition, following a heart attack in 2002. The stress on you has manifested itself in, amongst other things, chest pains, anxiety and insomnia and you have been receiving counselling and medication.

The offence of manslaughter is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified. The least possible sentence I can impose, having regard to the aggravating and mitigating factors of the case, is one of 3 years’ imprisonment. If you had not pleaded guilty, this would have been 4½ years.

I impose a sentence of 4 months’ imprisonment for the offence of possessing a firearm without a certificate. This, which would have been 6 months if you had pleaded not guilty, will be concurrent to the other sentence, because I took account of your unlawful possession of the air-rifle when arriving at that sentence. So your total sentence is one of 3 years’ imprisonment.

You will serve up to one half of your sentence in custody. You will serve the remainder on licence. You must keep to the terms of your licence and commit no further offence or you will be liable to be recalled and you may then serve the rest of your sentence in custody.

Mr Justice Lavender

2 July 2019

The principle of sentencing proportionality and adequacy of sentence

In the case of Sumer Singh v. Surajbhan Singh and others reported in , (2014)7 SCC 323, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had an occasion to consider the principle of sentencing proportionality and adequacy of sentence. In the aforesaid decision while emphasizing the need for appropriate punishment in paragraph- 36 the Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed and held as under:–

“36. Having discussed about the discretion, presently we shall advert to the duty of the court in the exercise of power while imposing sentence for an offence. It is the duty of the court to impose adequate sentence, for one of the purposes of imposition of requisite sentence is protection of the society and a legitimate response to the collective conscience. The paramount principle that should be the guiding laser beam is that the punishment should be proportionate. It is the answer of law to the social conscience. In a way, it is an obligation to the society which has reposed faith in the court of law to curtail the evil. While imposing the sentence it is the Court’s accountability to remind itself about its role and the reverence for rule of law. It must evince the rationalized judicial discretion and not an individual perception or a moral propensity. But, if in the ultimate eventuate the proper sentence is not awarded, the fundamental grammar of sentencing is guillotined. Law cannot tolerate it; society does not withstand it; and sanctity of conscience abhors it. The old saying “the law can hunt one’s past” cannot be allowed to be buried in an indecent manner and the rainbow of mercy, for no fathomable reason, should be allowed to rule. True it is, it has its own room, but, in all circumstances, it cannot be allowed to occupy the whole accommodation. The victim, in this case, still cries for justice. We do not think that increase in fine amount or grant of compensation under the IPC would be a justified answer in law. Money cannot be the oasis. It cannot assume the centre stage for all redemption. Interference in manifestly inadequate and unduly lenient sentence is the justifiable warrant, for the Court cannot close its eyes to the agony and anguish of the victim and, eventually, to the cry of the society. Therefore, striking the balance we are disposed to think that the cause of justice would be best subserved if the respondent is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment of two years apart from the fine that has been imposed by the learned trial Judge.”

 Again in the case of Narinder Singh and others v. State of Punjab and another reported in , (2014) 6 SCC 466, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had an occasion to consider the sentencing policy, the purpose/jurisprudential justification of awarding sentence (deterrence, retribution or rehabilitation) vis-a-vis nature of crime. In para 14, 16 and 17 the Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed as under:

“14. The Law prohibits certain acts and/or conduct and treats them as offences. Any person committing those acts is subject to penal consequences which may be of various kind. Mostly, punishment provided for committing offences is either imprisonment or monetary fine or both. Imprisonment can be rigorous or simple in nature. Why those persons who commit offences are subjected to such penal consequences? There are many philosophies behind such sentencing justifying these penal consequences. The philosophical/jurisprudential justification can be retribution, incapacitation, specific deterrence, general deterrence, rehabilitation, or restoration. Any of the above or a combination thereof can be the goal of sentencing.

There is no mandatory provision to hear the convict on a separate date on sentence

In a recent Judgment rendered by three learned Judges of this Court in B.A. Umesh v. High Court of Karnataka, (2016) 9 SCALE 600, the facts were more or less similar, in that no separate date for hearing on sentence was given after recording conviction. Para 8 of that decision of this Court is quoted for ready reference:-

“8. In addition to above, it is contended on behalf of the petitioner (Review Applicant) that since no separate date for hearing on sentence was given in the present case by the trial court, as such for violation of Section 235(2) Cr.P.C., the sentence of death cannot be affirmed. We have considered the argument of Ms. Suri. It is true that the convict has a right to be heard before sentence. There is no mandate in Section 235(2) Cr.P.C. to fix separate date for hearing on sentence. It depends on the facts and circumstances as to whether a separate date is required for hearing on sentence or parties feel convenient to argue on sentence on the same day. Had any party pressed for separate date for hearing on the sentence, or both of them wanted to be heard on some other date, situation could have been different. In the present case, the parties were heard on sentence by both the courts below, and finally by this Court, as is apparent from the Judgment under review. As such, merely for the reason that no separate date is given for hearing on the sentence, the Review Petition cannot be allowed.”

Supreme Court then relied on the principle laid down in Dagdu v. State of Maharashtra  which was followed subsequently by another Bench of three learned Judges in Tarlok Singh v. State of Punjab, (1977) 3 SCC 218. In the circumstances, merely because no separate date was given for hearing on sentence, the entire exercise cannot be flawed or vitiated.

Haribhau Vs. State of Maharashtra [ALL SC 2018 SEPTEMBER]

September 04, 2018: ALTERNATIVE SENTENCE-In our considered opinion, firstly, taking into account that the appellant has already undergone one month’s jail sentence out of three months awarded to him, secondly, the fact that the incident in question is quite old and seems to have occurred at the spur of the moment, thirdly, the appellant has no criminal antecedent in his past life and lastly, he is not required in any other criminal case except the one in question which the appellant fairly did not deny having committed and rightly did not challenge his conviction, it is considered to be just and proper to alter the jail sentence awarded to the appellant from three months to the extent of period of one month which was already undergone by him and instead enhance the total fine amount awarded under different Sections from Rs.800/to Rs.15,000/-APPEAL PARTLY ALLOWEDContinue Reading

Pradeep Bachhar Vs. State of Chhattisgarh [SC 2017 December]

KEYWORDS:- Quantum of sentence-Poverty

Capture

Considering the circumstances placed before us on behalf of the appellant-accused viz. they are very poor and have to maintain their family, it was their first offence and if they fail to pay the amount of fine as per the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, they have to remain in jail for a period of 3 years in addition to the period of substantive sentene because of their inability to pay the fine, we are of the view that serious prejudice will be caused not only to them but also to their family members who are innocent.

We are, therefore, of the view that ends of justice would be met if we order that in default of payment of fine of Rs. 1.5 lakhs, the appellants shall undergo RI for 6 months instead of 3 years as ordered by the Additional Sessions Judge and confirmed by the High Court.

DATE:- December 11, 2017

ACTS:- Section 20(b) (ii)(C) of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Pradeep Bachhar Vs. State of Chhattisgarh

[Criminal Appeal No. 2151 of 2017 @ Special Leave Petition (CRL.) No. 7851 of 2017]

KURIAN, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. The appellant is convicted under Section 20(b) (ii)(C) of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (in short, “the NDPS Act”) and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 15 years and a fine of Rs. 1,50,000/- with a default sentence of three years.

3. The High Court reduced the sentence from 15 years to 12 years. The fine of Rs. 1,50,000/- was retained, but the default sentence was reduced to two years.

4. When the matter came up before this Court, on 09.10.2017, notice was issued on the quantum of sentence.

5. A similar situation came up for consideration before this Court in Shahejadkhan Mahebubkhan Pathan Vs. State of Gujarat, reported in (2013) 1 SCC 570, whereby having regard to the financial and other social conditions of the convicted person, this Court reduced the substantial sentence to 10 years and the default sentence to six months. The relevant considerations are available at paragraphs 15 and 16 of the Judgment, which read as follows :-

“15. It is clear that clause (b) of sub-section 1 of Section 30 of the Code authorises the court to award imprisonment in default of fine up to one-fourth of the term of imprisonment which the court is competent to inflict as punishment for the offence.

However, considering the circumstances placed before us on behalf of the appellant-accused viz. they are very poor and have to maintain their family, it was their first offence and if they fail to pay the amount of fine as per the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, they have to remain in jail for a period of 3 years in addition to the period of substantive sentene because of their inability to pay the fine, we are of the view that serious prejudice will be caused not only to them but also to their family members who are innocent.

We are, therefore, of the view that ends of justice would be met if we order that in default of payment of fine of Rs. 1.5 lakhs, the appellants shall undergo RI for 6 months instead of 3 years as ordered by the Additional Sessions Judge and confirmed by the High Court.

16. For the reasons stated above, both the appeals are partly allowed. The conviction recorded is confirmed and sentence imposed upon the appellants to undergo RI for 15 years is modified to 10 years. The order of payment of fine of Rs. 1.5 lakhs each is also upheld but the order that in default of payment of fine, the appellants shall undergo RI for 3 years is reduced to RI for 6 months.

Since the appellants have already served nearly 12 years in jail, we are of the view that as per the modified period of sentence in respect of default in payment of fine, there is no need for them to continue in prison. The appellants shall be set at liberty forthwith unless they are required in any other offence. It is further made clear that for any reasons, if the appellants have not completed the modified period of sentence, they will be released after the period indicated hereinabove is over.”

6. Having heard the learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant and the learned counsel appearing for the State, on facts, we do not find any reason to take a different view. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed. The substantial sentence of the appellant is reduced to 10 years and the sentence in default on payment of fine is reduced to six months.

 [KURIAN JOSEPH]

 [AMITAVA ROY]

New Delhi;

December 11, 2017

Abhijit Das Vs. State of Tripura-20/01/2019

The sentence is altered to the period already undergone

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Act: Section 324 IPC

[Criminal Appeal No. 148 of 2017 @ Special Leave Petition (CRL.) No. 9253 of 2014]

KURIAN, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. While issuing notice on 19.11.2014, the scope of the notice was limited to the question of sentence.

3. It is not in dispute that the conviction maintained was only under Section 324 IPC. We are informed that the appellant has undergone sentence of around three months.

4. Looking at the nature of injury and other circumstances, we are of the view that the interest of justice would be served in case the sentence is altered to the period already undergone.

Ordered accordingly.

5. In view of the above, the appeal is allowed to the above extent.

 KURIAN JOSEPH

 A. M. KHANWILKAR