The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal to reduce the 17-year sentence handed down by the criminal court to a 23-year-old convicted of the murder of a 19-year-old Syrian man in April 2020 in Paphos.
The victim had entered into an affair with the wife of the perpetrator, which the latter became aware of only five days before the murder. The victim was taken by the appellant and others to a beach in Chlorakas, where he was stabbed multiple times and eventually bled to death.
The appellant challenged the 17-year sentence handed to him, arguing that the criminal court did not give due weight to mitigating factors when measuring the sentence and wrongly concluded that there was no provocation on the part of the victim.
He also argued that the court did not take into account that at the time of the crime he was in a state of panic, psychological stress, confusion and shame, as a result of which he lost his self-control, or that he acted without any planning and that the murder weapon was accidentally found in another person’s vehicle.
In its decision, the Supreme Court stated that alongside the established need to impose a severe and deterrent penalty to such crimes, the criminal court does take into account all mitigating factors brought before it.
With reference to the relevant jurisprudence, it emphasised that even in serious offences, the duty of the court to individualise the sentence is not diminished and it duly deals with each case on the basis of its facts and each accused according to his circumstances.
In this context, the court considered in favour of the appellant that at the time of the offence he was under psychological stress, but also his family and personal circumstances, detailed in a welfare office report, his clean criminal record, his young age and his admission in court, which did justify a reduction in his sentence.
“It is our judgement that the criminal court carefully and correctly weighed every relevant factor and took into account every element that was in favour of the appellant,” the Supreme Court said.
“Its conclusion that from the facts of the case, there was no provocation on behalf of the victim, is judged to be correct,” as the crime was committed under stress caused by the affair, it added.
However, the appellant became aware of the affair five days before the murder, and had had a conversation with the victim where the latter had told him he loved his wife and wished to marry her.
“It was rightly judged that these were circumstances that did not constitute a provocation on part of the victim,” the Supreme Court ruled.
It also noted that the criminal court rightly pointed out that the use of a knife made the offence all the more serious as it implied the appellant had pre-planned it by carrying the weapon on him.
“Therefore, we do not identify any error of principle, nor has it been demonstrated that the sentence in question is manifestly excessive given the seriousness of the charge, but also the facts surrounding it,” the Supreme Court said, ruling to reject the appeal and uphold the sentence.