R v Knowles

CourtSupreme Court (Bahamas)
JudgeMalone, Snr. J.
Judgment Date14 March 1986
Date14 March 1986
Docket NumberCriminal Side No. 85/10 of 1985

Supreme Court

Malone, Snr. J.

Criminal Side No. 85/10 of 1985


Mr. Ducille for the Crown

Mr. M. Scott for the Accused.

Mental Health - Mental Health Act, No. 16 of 1969 — Medical evidence that accused suffered from an incurable illness which was chronic and led to a risk of violence — Whether court had power to vary sentence made under Penal Code, Cap. 48, s. 339 — Finding that court had such power — Holding that accused be detained at mental hospital for life.

Malone, Snr. J.

The section of the Mental Health Act, No. 16 of 1969 over which argument developed this morning, namely section 25(1)(a)(i) is copied from section 60 of the Mental Health Act, 1959 of England.


In the notes to section 60 of the English Act, at p 1015 of Halsbury's “Statutes of England”, 2nd Ed. Vol. 39, appears the following:–

“Offence the sentence of which is fixed by law, e.g. capital murder or repeated murder for which the sentence fixed by law is death (Offences against the Person Act, 1861 (c.100), s. 1, Vol. 5, p 788 and Homicide Act, 1957 (c.11), ss. 5(3), 6(1), Vol. 37, pp 177, 179) and other murders for which the sentence fixed is imprisonment for life (Homicide Act, 1957 (c.11), ss. 7, 9(1), Vol. 37, p 108.”


Sections 5(3) and 6(1) of the homicide Act, 1957 impose death as the sentence for capital murders and repeated murders, as they provide that the person convicted:–

“shall be liable to the same punishment as heretofore.”


Death being the punishment imposed by section 1 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861. Section 9(1) decrees that for murder not punishable by death and those, by virtue of section 7, are all other murders not falling within section 5 and 6:–

“the sentence shall be one of imprisonment for life.”


In relation to section 9, there is the following note at Halsbury's “Statutes of England”, 2nd Ed. Vol. 37:–

“Imprisonment for life. The sentence is a fixed one and not the maximum that may be awarded. An application for leave to appeal against such a sentence cannot therefore be received: See the Criminal Appeal Act, 1907 (c.23), s 3(c), Vol. 5, p 928 and Practice Note, (1957), 2 All E.R. 378, C.A.”


On reference to that Practice Note, I find that the first paragraph which quotes Lord Goddard, C. J., is as follows:–

“Applications for leave to appeal against sentence of life imprisonment imposed under s 9 of the Homicide Act, 1957, for...

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