Co-accused received lesser sentences
Any mitigation is sufficient to justify a lesser sentence. Deliberately inflicting an injury on a lower part of the body, and not inflicting repeat injuries, constitutes sufficient mitigation. Additionally, where the accused has already served a long period in imprisonment the ‘expectancy of life’ arises.
If the “eye-witnesses produced by the prosecution are disbelieved to the extent of some accused person attributed effective role, then the said eye-witnesses cannot be relied upon for the purpose of convicting another accused person attributed a similar role, without availability of independent corroboration.”
An accused cannot receive a death sentence when a co-accused with a more serious role in the incident was acquitted.
Where witness evidence is unreliable in regard to the involvement of one of the co-accused then, ordinarily, they cannot be relied upon against the other co-accused unless their testimony is sufficiently corroborated through strong corroboratory evidence coming from an unimpeachable and independent source.
Mitigating factors that prevent the imposition of the death penalty include: (1) lack of premeditation – which can be evidenced by the incident occurring at the ‘spur of the moment’; (2) failure to inflict repeat injuries where there was opportunity to do so; (3) co-accused received a lesser sentence; and (4) lack of clarity about who inflicted the fatal injuries. Further, a death sentence should be commuted to life where the accused has already served a full life term of imprisonment (25 years), giving rise to the ‘expectancy of life’ doctrine.