On New Years Eve 2013, Robert Cerqua was at the family home in Hythe in Hampshire with his twin brother Nicholas and other members of his family. After alcohol had been consumed, Robert and Nicholas had an argument.
The prosecutor told Winchester Crown Court that “That argument appears to have turned into a tussle, punches may have been exchanged, at some point this defendant picked up a kitchen knife and he used it to stab his brother Christopher.”
Robert accepted killing his brother, but said that it was done in self-defence after his brother had threatened him with a knife. On 20th October 2014 the jury in his trial found Robert guilty by a majority of 10-2. He will be sentenced tomorrow.
What sentence will he get?
The only sentence that can be passed is one of life imprisonment. The issue for the Judge will be how the tariff – the minimum period of time before Robert can be considered for release, will be.
Our fact sheet sets out how the Judge will set about that task. Here, the starting point will be 15 years. There was a trial, so there can be no credit for a guilty plea. We would, however, expect a tariff of under 15 years in any event.
The reason for this is that it would appear that this was a moment (or couple of moments) of anger from Robert. In those circumstances, it may well be that the Judge will feel that this is the sort of case where a bit of mercy can be shown (relatively speaking), and reduce the tariff to somewhere in the region of 13-14 years.
If it was a drunken argument, then it may be that the Judge sees this as an unpremeditated act, where there was no intention to kill (but to cause really serious harm), and real remorse was shown afterwards. None of the aggravating features appear to be present, and therefore whilst the 15 years is a starting point, it may be that that will be reduced. The fact that the victim is his twin brother may well be seen as a mitigating feature to some extent.
We’ll come back tomorrow to see …