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QUEEN v. CARA et al.
D. C., Kalutara (Criminal), 650.
Criminal Procedure Code, s. 18—Sentence—Power of Court to give aggregatepunishment—Distinct offences.
Under section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is competent fora District Court to pass sentences on an accused person aggregatingfour years.
But such a power should not be exercised except when the offencesof which the accused is convicted are completely distinct in theircharacter.
HE persons accused in this case were convicted of house-breaking by night in order to commit theft (under section
443) and of committing theft in the same building used as a humandwelling (under section 369 of the Penal Code), and each of theaccused were sentenced “ to undergo rigorous imprisonment for aperiod of two years for the Bret offence, and further to undergorigorous imprisonment for a period of two years for the secondoffence, the several terms of imprisonment to commence imme-diately after the expiry of the first term ; in all to undergo eachfour years’ rigorous imprisonment.”
On appeal preferred by the accused, Dornhorst (with himJayawardana) appeared for them.
The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, but ordered thesentence passed on each of the appellants to be reduced from fourto two years, for reasons given in the following judgment:—
16th December, 1895. Withers, J.—
Notwithstanding the able way in which he put his appeal, Mr.Dornhorst failed to convince me that the verdict arrived at is awrong one.
I reserved consideration of the sentences passed on theappellants.
The 18th section of the Criminal Procedure Code seems to meclearly to enact that, when a person is convicted at one trial oftwo or more distinct offences, the Court may sentence him forsuch offences to the several punishments prescribed therefor,which such Court is competent to inflict, provided that if the caseis tried by a District or Police Court, the aggregate shall notexceed twice the amount of punishment which such Court in theexercise of its ordinary jurisdiction iB competent to inflict.
Hence a District Court is competent in Buch a case to passsentences aggregating four years.
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Such a power should not, however, be exercised except whenthe offences are completely distinct in their character. The dis-tinct character of the offences will he best indicated by theintention of the offender. If, e.g., the dominant intention is toinjure the person, there should be but one punishment, thoughthe transaction in its entirety discloses more than one injury tothe same person. If the transaction, on the other hand, disclosesan intention to commit a crime against the person as well as theproperty of the injured person, the punishments may and shouldbe distinct. Let me illustrate what I mean. If A commits theoffence of rape against B, and then and there commits theft fromB’s person, his conduct indicates the intention of committing twooffences wholly distinct in character, and separate sentenceswould be appropriately passed upon him in such a case. Lustand greed are alike gratified.
In the present case, to use the language of the old CriminalLaw, there was burglary and theft from a dwelling-house in oneand the same transaction. The single intention as disclosed bythe conduct of the appellants waB to commit an offence againstproperty. In consequence one sentence should have been passed,in my opinion. I therefore reduce the sentence against each ofthe appellants from four to two years’ rigorous imprisonment.
Deeembir 16.WlTHCBS, J.
QUEEN v. CARA et al