By Stephen Nuwagira
Joab Tukahirwa will spend the next 18 months contemplating his next move in life as he serves a jail term at Nyabuhikye Prison in Ibanda district.
The slightly built and short young man was convicted of house-breaking and theft by Ibanda Chief Magistrate Beatrice Kainza on April 6, 2022.
This followed the 24-year-old’s own plea of guilt for stealing the woofer system belonging to Evarist Biryomuhangi in March 2021.
The convict changed his initial not guilty plea as part of the plea bargain arrangement with the prosecution to benefit from a light sentence.
However, had he chosen to go through the whole process of the case, Tukahirwa was likely to get a longer prison sentence as the crime carries a maximum sentence of 10 years upon conviction, according to the resident state attorney Martin Ddungu.
“The suspect is a first-time offender and has been on remand for a year. However, he needs to be given a deterrent sentence because these are serious crimes. I pray that he is sentenced to 18 months in prison to serve as an example to others,” Ddungu said.
“You have been convicted on your own plea of guilt and sentenced to 18 months in prison,” Kainza said.
She said the jail term includes the time spent on remand, adding that the convict had not wasted court’s time and was remorseful.
Earlier, Tukahirwa had told the court that he learnt his lesson while on remand and requested for leniency.
What is plea bargain arrangement?
Under this arrangement, a magistrate or judge can approve the agreed-on sentence, and increase or reduce it as seen appropriate.
The move seeks to decongest prisons and ensure justice is served in the shortest time possible.
It also helps the Judiciary and prison department to save money that could have been used to transport suspects to court or hear the cases, among others.