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  1. DPP -v- Cunningham.

Case number: SC1


Case title: D.P.P. -v- Cunningham.


Date: October 8th, 2002.


Neutral Citation: [2002] IESC 64. 


Judgment: Hardiman J. 


Composition of the Court: Keane C.J., Denham J., Murray J., Geoghegan J., Murphy J. 


Keywords: Section 29 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924 – Sentence – Facts in existence at time of sentencing – Subsequent events – New evidence.


Summary: The appellant pleaded guilty to the offence of forgery contrary to Section 2 of the Forgery Act, 1913 and was sentenced to five years imprisonment by the Circuit Criminal Court. He appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal. The Court of Criminal Appeal refused to receive documents and testimonials dated subsequent to the hearing in the Circuit Criminal Court. Many of the documents related to the appellant’s conduct after his imprisonment. The appellant appealed to the Supreme Court on the basis of the Court of Criminal Appeal’s refusal to accept these documents.


The Court emphasised that the Court of Criminal Appeal exercises an appellate jurisdiction. It may admit fresh evidence only in limited circumstances.


Where the Court of Criminal Appeal is hearing an appeal or an application for leave to appeal against the severity of a sentence imposed by a Court of trial, the Court held that it is strictly limited to considering the state of facts existing at the date when the sentence was imposed and it may not receive evidence in relation to events or facts subsequently occurring relating to the behaviour of the Applicant, his state of health or otherwise which might be relevant if the Court were itself deciding on the correct sentence.


The material sought to be introduced in this case might be relevant if the Court of Criminal Appeal was itself determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed. The Court of Criminal Appeal will only do so, however, if it had decided that the original sentence was wrong in principle for excessive severity or for undue leniency.