The Court of Appeal in Kampala has upheld an 18-year jail term handed to Phillip Kaggwa for murdering a senior three student in Nsangi Sub-county, Wakiso District.
The Court comprising justices Cheborion Barishaki, Lady Justices Hellen Obura, and Eva Luswata ruled that the sentence handed to Kaggwa, who was in a relationship with the deceased, following his own plea of guilty was neither harsh nor excessive given the circumstances of the case and therefore they haven’t seen any reason to interfere with it.
Court heard that on August, 31st 2015 at Kivu LC1 Nsangi Sub-county in Wakiso District, Kaggwa with malice aforethought killed Viola Namazzi. The deceased was aged 17 years.
The court heard that on the fateful day, an alarm was heard by the neighbors of the deceased.
The records show that the alarm was made by the deceased who was locked inside the house of Kaggwa who was strangling her. The records further show that the neighbors begged Kaggwa to open the door but he refused and continued assaulting Namazzi who was seen cutting her with a knife.
“The appellant was distracted by stones thrown at the house by the neighbors and at that time, the neighbors advised the deceased to escape through the window. As the deceased attempted to escape through the window, the appellant hit her on the head using an axe and she died instantly. A post-mortem examination was carried out on the deceased which indicated the cause of death as trauma caused by blunt force”, reads the documents.
“The appellant attempted to commit suicide but was rescued, arrested, and later subjected to a medical examination which found him to be of normal mental status. The appellant pleaded guilty, was convicted and sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment on 25th September 2017”, adds the documents. Kaggwa was sentenced then by the late Justice Wilson Masalu Musene.
Dissatisfied with the sentence, Kaggwa only challenged the sentence with one ground the learned trial Judge erred in law and fact in sentencing him to 18 years jail imprisonment which sentence he described as illegal, manifestly harsh, and excessive in the circumstances.
However, the Prosecution led by State Attorney Marion Caroline Acio opposed the appeal on the grounds that the sentence handed to Kaggwa was below the belt because the maximum sentence for murder is death. She said the Court of Appeal can only interfere with the sentence of the trial Court if that sentence is illegal or is based on a wrong principle or the Court has overlooked a material factor, or where the sentence is manifestly excessive or so low as to amount to a miscarriage of justice.
Acio thus asked the Court to dismiss the appeal for lack of merit.
In their decision, the Justices agreed with the prosecution’s submissions and also ruled that Kaggwa was not a first-time offender because he had just been released from prison on charges of defilement at the time he murdered Namazzi.
“The appellant killed a 17-year-old girl and a student of senior three by hitting her on the head with an axe hence dying instantly. He himself tried to commit suicide but was prevented by the residents who pelted him with bricks making it impossible for him to commit suicide. The appellant is a second offender who had just been released from prison on charges of defilement”, said the Justices.
They have added that Kaggwa committed a very grave offense, whose maximum penalty is death. “We, therefore, find that the learned Judge took into consideration the period of time that the appellant had spent on remand and the mitigating and aggravating factors before imposing the sentence”, reads the Judgement.