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Rajeshwar Singh v/s The Queen


Company & Directors' Information:- I-QUEEN PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74999KL2017PTC048635

    CA No. 682 of 2018

    Decided On, 12 April 2019

    At, Court of Appeal of New Zealand

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE WILLIAMS
    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE COLLINS & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE TOOGOOD

    For the Applicant: In person. For the Respondent: No appearance.



Judgment Text

REASONS OF THE COURT

(Given by Collins J)

Introduction

[1] Mr Singh has applied to have this Court reconsider a decision, in which it dismissed his appeal against a sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment (MPI) of 16 years for the murder of his wife.[1]

[2] The sentence was imposed by Ronald Young J, following a plea of guilty by Mr Singh.[2] The guilty plea followed a sentence indication, in which the Judge indicated a sentence of life imprisonment with an MPI of 16 years.[3]

[3] Mr and Mrs Singh were living apart at the time of her murder. Mr Singh had ruminated over the breakup of his marriage. On 26 November 2013, he broke into Mrs Singh’s home and stabbed her to death. He then attempted to hang himself in the garage. The police arrived in time to save Mr Singh.

[4] On 20 March 2014, Ronald Young J found Mr Singh was fit to stand trial.[4] That finding was based on two psychiatric reports prepared pursuant to s 38(1)(a) of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003. In one of those reports it was noted that Mr Singh had a depressive episode but was not psychotic. The report also recorded Mr Singh’s account that his wife had been stabbed by accident.

[5] In sentencing Mr Singh, Ronald Young J said that s 104 of the Sentencing Act 2002 was engaged because the murder involved premeditation and a home invasion.[5] The Judge adopted a nominal starting point of an MPI of 18 years, which he reduced to 16 years to reflect Mr Singh’s guilty plea. The Judge said that although Mr Singh was suffering from depression, his condition did not reduce his culpability or, by itself, warrant a reduction in the sentence.[6]

[6] When considering Mr Singh’s appeal, this Court endorsed the approach and result reached by Ronald Young J and concluded that the 16-year MPI was not manifestly excessive.[7]

[7] In his application to us, Mr Singh reasserts:

(a) his claim that his wife was killed by accident when she impaled herself on the knife that he was holding; and

(b) that at the time he was suffering from depression and stress.

[8] Mr Singh also maintains his sentence was manifestly excessive compared to the sentence imposed in R v Jefferies, which Mr Singh says involved similar facts to his case.[8] Mr Jefferies was sentenced to life imprisonment, with an MPI of 11 years for murdering his former partner.[9]

[9] This Court has, in exceptional circumstances, the inherent power to reconsider its decisions where the interests of justice require reconsideration, even though the appeal has been finally and formally disposed of.[10] The Court’s inherent power to reconsider its decisions will only be invoked where a substantial miscarriage of justice would result if a fundamental procedural error is not corrected and there is no alternative effective remedy available, such as an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.[11]

[10] Mr Singh’s application falls far short of the criteria required before this Court will reconsider its decision. The reasons for this are:

(a) The grounds we have referred to at [7] were considered when dismissing Mr Singh’s appeal.

(b) R v Jefferies is readily distinguishable. The killing in that case was a “spontaneous event” and it did not involve a home invasion.[12]

(c) Other avenues are available to Mr Singh if he wishes to pursue them.

[11] There is no basis for this Court to reconsider its earlier decision. Mr Singh’s application is therefore declined.

Result

[12] The application to revisit the appeal in Singh v R [2016] NZCA 582 is declined.

---------------------------------------------

[1] Singh v R [2016] NZCA 582 [Court of Appeal decision].

[2] R v Singh [2014] NZHC 1246 [Sentencing notes].

[3] R v Singh [2014] NZHC 753 [Sentenci

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ng indication]. [4] R v S [2014] NZHC 525. [5] Sentencing notes, above n 2, at [17]. [6] Sentencing indication, above n 3, at [14]. [7] Court of Appeal decision, above n 1, at [31]. [8] R v Jefferies [2018] NZHC 2363. [9] At [40]. [10] R v Smith [2002] NZCA 335; [2003] 3 NZLR 617 (CA) at [36]. [11] At [36]. [12] R v Jefferies, above n 8, at [29].
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