D.P.P.-v- Jurijs Princs, [2007] IECCA 142 (2007)

Docket Number:230CJA/06
Judge:Murray C.J.

THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALMurray C.J. 2006 No. 230CJAHanna J.Irvine J.BETWEENTHE PEOPLE (AT THE SUIT OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS)APPLICANT-v-JURIJS PRINCSRESPONDENTJUDGMENT of the Court delivered by Murray C.J. on the 31st day of July, 2007 This is an application on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions pursuant to s. 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993 for a review of the sentence imposed on the Respondent on the grounds that the said sentence was unduly lenient. The Applicant seeks an Order quashing the sentence and the imposition in lieu thereof a sentence which the Court deems appropriate.The sentence in question is one of four years and nine months imprisonment imposed on the Respondent by the Central Criminal Court on the 15th November 2006 for the offence of manslaughter of Mr. Robertas Stravinsks a Latvian national. The sentence imposed was backdated to the 23rd May 2005, the date of the Respondent's arrest.Facts Related to the OffenceThe Respondent was charged and tried for the crime of murder. He had offered a plea to manslaughter but this was not accepted by the D.P.P. At the trial the Respondent relied on the defence of provocation. He was acquitted of the offence of murder and convicted of manslaughter.At the hearing of this application the facts and circumstances surrounding the unlawful killing of the deceased by the Respondent although sketchy in parts were not in controversy and were agreed. These were as follows:Early on the 23rd May 2005 the Respondent and the deceased were among a group of persons drinking in a friend's house. A considerable quantity of alcohol was consumed there and, later on, elsewhere on the same day. Some disagreement arose between the Respondent and the deceased concerning a spare room which the Respondent had in his flat but which he did not wish the deceased to occupy. However no violence arose on account of this.At a certain point on the 23rd May the Respondent, the deceased and another man left the house in which they were drinking and eventually, later in the afternoon, arrived at the Respondent's flat at Cromwellsfort Road, Dublin where drinking continued.At some stage during this latter drinking session, the Respondent took up a kitchen knife which had been lying on a nearby table and stabbed the deceased three times while he was sitting in an armchair. One of the stab wounds was to the neck and shoulder area which damaged the corotid artery. It also pierced a lung. That stab wound proved fatal. The other two stab wounds were to the legs and were not fatal.The third man who had returned to the flat with the Respondent and the deceased had fallen asleep. He awoke to find the deceased in the armchair covered in blood and the Respondent attempting to stem the blood with bandages. The Respondent told this man he had killed the deceased. He was also expressing remorse at the effect that this would have on the deceased's child who was then only six months old. The Respondent then phoned another friend who arrived later and assisted the Respondent to carry the body of the deceased into an adjoining bedroom. The three men then left the flat and the Respondent was arrested later that evening when stopped by the Gardaí. In fact the Respondent had driven to a shop where he purchased flowers and some drink. His manner of driving to the shop was so erratic and dangerous that it had been reported to the Gardaí. On foot of this complaint the Gardaí went to investigate and arrested him outside the shop where he had made his purchases. He was still wearing the same clothes as he had worn in the flat when he had stabbed the deceased and there was much evidence of blood on them. In the meantime the death of the deceased had been reported to the Gardaí by persons who had returned to the flat and found the body. The Gardaí having made a connection between the stabbing of the deceased and the Respondent arrested him on suspicion of the killing.He was duly detained under s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act of 1984 and interviewed. During the course of these interviews he admitted stabbing the deceased but gave as a reason for doing so aggressive and insulting behaviour on the part of the deceased. He told the Gardaí that the deceased had been shouting at him, insulting him and was of the belief that the deceased would become more aggressive although at no stage was there any evidence of actual violence being used by the deceased. In evidence to the Court at his trial he added to the foregoing by saying that the deceased had insulted a former girlfriend and referred to her as a "Lithuanian bitch" who slept with a Russian. The deceased was being offensive towards Russians. The Respondent is himself Latvian but of Russian extraction. At his trial the Respondent said that he lost control and grabbed the kitchen knife which happened to be on the table and stabbed the deceased. There was no evidence that the deceased had attacked or attempted to attack the Accused.The SentenceIn the first instance the learned trial Judge acknowledged the gravity of the offence and stated "First of all a young man is dead, and that person had a partner and a child… . Secondly, it is a fact that in this case, the deceased person was drunk, unarmed and was sitting on a chair so the Court must regard this as being a very serious matter indeed." The learned Trial Judge then went on to address the factors which he felt operated in mitigation of the culpability of the Respondent. The...

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