By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
THE Court of Appeal has reduced a prison sentence of a 24-year-old woman who caused the death of her son due to reckless beer drinking from 12 years imprisonment with hard labour to four years simple imprisonment.
On September 24,2021, the Court of Appeal sitting in Kabwe reduced the sentence of Annie Kalwa who was initially sentenced to 12 years with hard labour for a charge of manslaughter by the High Court.
Facts of the offence are that Kalwa on October 11,2019, at about 15:00 hours went on a drinking spree while carrying her one-year-eight months old son on her back.
She drunk a local brew called Kachasu.
At around 19:00 hours, she decided to go home and on her way back while in a drunken state, she fail into a drainage as she was trying to jump over it while the son was strapped in a chitenge wrapper on her back.
Upon arrival at her home, she did not bother checking on her son but simply put him to sleep.
Later in the night, she observed that the victim’s temperature was high and called for help from the neighbours and took him to Sumbu clinic in Mansa.
The medical personal examined the child and discovered that he had bruises on the neck, lacerations on the chest, cuts on the chin and that he had already died.
According to the postmortem report, the cause of death was hypovolemic shock due to internal bleeding as a result of raptured liver due to severe trauma.
However, in mitigation, the convict begged for mercy as she was very remorseful and regretted having caused the death of her son due to reckless beer drinking habit.
After considering her mitigatory factors , Judge Yvonne Chembe ,sentenced her to 12 years imprisonment with hard labour.
The convict, however appealed against
the sentence on ground that the 12 years sentence imposed on her as a first offender who had readily admitted the charge was excessive.
The State did also not agree with the sentence imposed by the High Court on ground that the court relied on facts that were not in the statement of facts when imposing a hush sentence .
Court of Appeal Judges Mubanga Kondolo, Anessie Bobo-Banda and Kelvin Muzenga in their judgement agreed that the sentence imposed was excessive .
The Court stated that the trial court when deciding which sentence to impose, the convict referred to some facts which were not in the statement of facts.
When sentencing Judge Chembe said ” the postmortem shows that the infant had other injuries which could have occurred earlier. The explanation from the convict on the record was that, she fell on the brazier . She may well have been drunk at the time”.
But the Court of Appeal said that the convict never offered such an explanation.
” We do not know where the learned trial court could have possibly gotten these facts. We find this to be a serious misdirection which could have influenced the trial court to impose a more stiffer penalty,” said the Court.
The Court of Appeal therefore found that the sentence was wrong in principle on account of reference to the facts not contained in the statement of facts.
” The convict is a first offender who readily pleaded guilty and is a youth . Therefore allow the appeal against the sentence and set aside the 12 years imprisonment with hard labour instead impose a four years simple imprisonment with effect from the date of arrest,” ruled the court.