LONGEST JAIL TERM

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1993
The High Court of Solomon Islands.
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Couple killers to spend 53 years in prison

BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

CHIEF Justice Sir Albert Palmer has imposed a minimum term of 53 years sentence on Jimson Erega Goufi and Raymond Keota before they can be considered for parole.

The prisoners Goufi and Keota were convicted on 6 September 2018 of the double murder of the Chinese couple at their town ground shop, and commenced serving their mandatory sentence of a life imprisonment on that date.

Sir Albert in his ruling on the minimum sentence yesterday said the determination of the court on the minimum sentence to be served was in line with recent changes to the law on the imposition of a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for murder.

He said Section 200 of the Penal code imposes on a conviction of murder a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

However, Sir Albert said there is no law which requires the imposition of a minimum term by the Court in such cases to be served before the prisoner is eligible to be considered for parole.

This, he pointed out, means once a conviction of murder is entered a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment is imposed.

Sir Albert explained that the requirement for the imposition of a minimum term came about with the enactment of new legislation, the Correctional Services Act 2007 (No 8 of 2007) the Correction Services (Amendment) Act 2008 (No 6 of 2008) and the Correctional Services Regulation 2008.

This included those serving mandatory life imprisonment sentence before they can be eligible for parole.

This has changed the landscape for sentences of life imprisonment for murder. Prior to this the court was not required to impose any minimum sentence for murder.

“I am satisfied this case falls within the very serious or most serious cases category,” Sir Albert said.

“I have indicated that this is one of those extremely rare case in which the attack involving the use of a weapon was pre-planned and the killing pre-mediated,” he added.

“They took time to carefully think through and plan what they going to do.

“They knew what was going to happen and, on the day, sought to implement to calculated ferocity and viciousness.

“After killing the husband, they did not stop there but proceeded also to kill the wife when she ran out from the kitchen to see what was happening.”

Sir Albert said the killing was done by none other than one of their own security guards (a supposedly trusted employee), who had engaged an accomplice to assist him in carrying out this heinous crime.

He said the defendants took advantage of a position to trust to commit the crime.

“The least the couple expected was to be attacked by one of their very own employees.”

Sir Albert said a clear message in terms of deterrence, needs to be sent out that this type of killing will not be tolerated in this country.

“Security guards should be men and women of honour, loyalty and trust.

“If they cannot discharge that honorable duty to their employer or master, then they should consider finding another job.

“The killing involved a betrayal of trust and confidence between an employer and an employee relationship.

“The couple were business people running a number of businesses at the premises they were killed.”

After assessing and considering all the facts of the case, Sir Albert sets a starting point of 50 years, for additional aggravating features, increase the minimum sentence by 5 years and reduce the term through mitigation that they are both first time offenders by a period of two years.

Therefore, the minimum term to be served by each prisoner is 53 years and commenced from the time both prisoners were remanded in prison for the said offence.


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