SCA reduces sentence of policeman who demanded money from suspect

01 December 2016 - 18:46 By Ernest Mabuza
Image: iStock

The appeal court said the magistrate’s court which sentenced Lebogang Phillips to a seven-year prison term‚ two of which were suspended‚ had misdirected itself by over-emphasising the factor of deterrence.

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It said the sentence was also unduly severe and that a lesser sentence would be an adequate deterrence to other police officers who may be tempted to supplement their income by corrupt activities.

It reduced the sentence to a four-year term.

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Phillips had arrested John Carlisle‚ a student at the University of Pretoria‚ for allegedly drinking in public in the early hours of July 2010. Carlisle denied he had been drinking.

Carlisle was placed in the back of a police van before Phillips went back to him to demand R2‚000 to avoid arrest.

Carlisle said he could only pay R1‚200. The policeman then took Carlisle to the nearest ATM to withdraw cash‚ but Carlisle was only able to withdraw R900 in cash.

Phillips took it and released Carlisle. Feeling aggrieved by the policeman’s conduct‚ Carlisle opened a case of bribery against Phillips.

Phillips was arrested‚ charged with bribery and later convicted.

As a result of conviction‚ the then 35-year-old married father of three lost his employment‚ where he had nine years’ flawless service.

The Supreme Court of Appeal‚ said in the determination of what an appropriate sentence would be‚ the trial court misdirected itself by over-emphasising the factor of deterrence and failed to give adequate weight to all other relevant considerations.

Judge of Appeal Dumisani Zondi said deterrence was one of the objects and purposes of criminal punishment.

He said the other three aspects of sentencing‚ namely prevention‚ rehabilitation and retribution were also important.

“Offenders should not be sacrificed on the altar of deterrence.”

He said the sentence of seven years‚ albeit with two years suspended‚ was unduly severe.