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On 15 December 2017, Nancy Kissel applied to High Court seeking to overturn the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board’s decision not to recommend to the Chief Executive that a determinate sentence be substituted for her indeterminate life sentence by way of judicial review (HCAL 137/2016). Kissel was convicted of murder and sentenced for life for drugging her husband with a drug-laced milkshake and bludgeoned him to death with a lead ornament.

In July 1997, the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Ordinance established the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board. Under s.12 of the Ordinance, the Board is under a duty to review prisoners’ sentences. The essential function of the Board is to give individual consideration to offenders and their cases in relation to certain sentences, including life sentences. The Board may recommend to the Chief Executive that the prisoner’s indeterminate sentence be commuted to one determinate in nature that is commensurate with the offence committed. In reviewing the sentences, the Board is required to have regard to the following principles:-

(a)    in any case where the prisoner has not been completely rehabilitated, the rehabilitative effect of releasing the prisoner from detention before the unremitted part of the prisoner’s sentence is served;

(b)    the benefits to the prisoner and to the community arising from the prisoner being supervised after release with a view to securing, or increasing the likelihood of securing, the prisoner’s rehabilitation (in any case where the prisoner has not been completely rehabilitated) and successful reintegration into the community;

(c)    whether the part of the prisoner’s sentence already served is sufficient, in all the circumstances (in particular given the nature of the offence for which the prisoner is being detained), to warrant consideration being given to having the prisoner released from detention early;

(d)    the need to protect members of the community from reasonably foreseeable harm that could be inflicted by the prisoner as a result of having being released from detention early.

Find out more in:

Criminal Procedure: Trial on Indictment

Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong on Administrative Law

Annotated Ordinances of Hong Kong on Criminal Procedure Ordinance

Sentencing in Hong Kong

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