ConCourt dismisses appeal bid

2013-03-28 19:35

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court on Thursday denied a KwaZulu-Natal man leave to appeal against two sentences imposed on him more than a decade ago.

"This court does not ordinarily grant leave to appeal against [a] sentence unless the appeal raises fair trial issues that may result in a failure of justice.

"That is not the case here," the court said in its ruling on Thursday.

"The applicant's complaint is not that his trials were unfair, but that the effect of the parole policies of the department of correctional services is that he is being unfairly discriminated against."

The question was where the remedy lay, it said.

Clinton Loyd Houston was convicted on charges of murder, kidnapping, and robbery with aggravating circumstances, and on 28 September 1997 he was given an effective 30-year sentence.

Months later, he was convicted on charges of murder and two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and for these crimes he was handed an effective 40-year jail term on 27 February 1998.

The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban ordered that the sentences be served consecutively.

The convicted killer is now serving a term of 70-years imprisonment.

He was refused leave to appeal by the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal.

On 7 November last year, he launched an application in the Constitutional Court not only for leave to appeal the decision, but also for a condonation for the late application.

Houston contended that his current situation amounted to unfair discrimination because had he been given a life sentence, he would have had a better chance to be paroled.

He submitted that a system that made granting parole easier for those with life sentences than for those like him was inequitable.

The Constitutional Court found no grounds for an appeal against the sentences imposed in the High Court, as there was no irregularity in the process at that time.

It said Houston's potential remedies lay elsewhere, if circumstances existed that warranted a review of parole policies.

The condonation was granted but leave to appeal was refused.

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