Capital punishment in Guelphia

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Template:Infobox Crime and punishment On several occasions, Guelphia has used capital punishment as a legal form of punishment for the crimes of murder, rape, piracy, drug importation, and treason. Created as a punishment final resort, the number of executions carried out has been among the lowest of any nation using execution as a form of punishment in recent times. All executions have employed the hanging method, and are carried out in one of the five prisons located across the country.

In December 2016, in the wake of an inquiry in to the trial and execution of Wendell Tamati, executions were suspended by the King on the advice of the Judicial Committee of the Executive Council, which found significant flaws in the trial.

Capital offences

The Criminal Code (Capital Offences) Act lists the following offences as carrying a maximum penalty of death:

  • Murder in the First Degree;
  • Aggravated rape;
  • Piracy;
  • High Treason; and
  • Importation of Class A drugs.


To date, there have been approximately 102 sentences of death carried since the execution of Stephen Peter Donovan in September 1977. On average, there have been 2.9 executions over the last 35 years. 1977 saw the lowest number of executions (1), while 1993 saw the highest (6), which included the first (and to date, only) execution for treason.

The following is a table of executions was compiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs up to December 2013. Detailed statistics on the number of executions are published by the Statistics Agency every twelve months.

Decade Murder Rape Piracy Drugs Treason Total
1970s 3 2 0 NA[1] 0 5
1980s 12 16 0 0 28
1990s 16 18 0 1 35
2000s 12 13 0 0 25
2010s 4 3 0 1 0 7

Legislative framework

Criminal Code (Capital Offences) Act
Coat of arms of Guelphia.png
Parliament of Guelphia
An Act to amend the Guelphian Criminal Code to restore capital punishment; and for purposes connected therewith
Date of Royal Assent 5 December 1976
Date commenced 1 January 1977

Capital punishment was returned to the statute book via the passage of the Criminal Code (Capital Offences) Act in December 1976. The Act amended the maximum penalty for murder, rape, piracy, and treason from a penalty of a term of natural life to that of death.

The Guelphian Criminal Code is now the only act that defines the five capital offences in Guelphia. In the case of murder and rape, sentencing guidelines state that a penalty of death shall only be granted if there aggravating circumstances, such as bodily harm or robbery. For piracy and treason, a penalty of death can be issued in any circumstance where guilt has been found. The death penalty is not passed on lunatics, minors, or a woman with child under any circumstance, all of whom are likely to receive a life sentence instead.

Procedures surrounding the implementation of the death penalty are found in the Criminal Procedure Act (as amended), which states that:

When any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he shall be hanged by the neck till he is dead[2].

The schedule of the Act specifies the words used by a judge to pass the sentence of death:

N, you will be taken hence to lawful prison and from there to a place of execution where you will be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and thereafter your body buried within the precincts of the prison. May the Lord have mercy upon your soul[3].

Together, this legislative framework provides the basis for all death penalty sentences in Guelphia.

Legal procedure

Capital cases are always heard by a judge and jury on the King's Bench Division of the High Court. If convicted by the unanimous consent of the 12 man jury , the judge will consult the sentencing guidelines, and may then pass a sentence of death on the offender. The offender has just one appeal to the Court of Appeal. If the appeal is upheld, the offender may walk, having been found innocent of his crimes. However, if the appeal fails, the final recourse for the condemned rests with the Sovereign, who may on the advice of the Judicial Committee of the Executive Council, choose to commute the sentence to a term of natural life. Around fifteen sentences have been commuted to life by the Sovereign on the advice of the Committee since 1977, the most recent of which was in April 2007.

Execution procedure

With all avenues exhausted, the condemned is usually executed within seven days. There are two reasons for this. On is purely economic – while alive, the condemned is a burden on the state. The second is for the psychological good of the prisoner – a quick execution ensures that they are not left to wallow in prison for an excessive period of time. Once it clear that no commutation of their sentence is to be forthcoming, the condemned is given at least five days notice before execution. This allows him to prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually for his demise, and also gives him time to write any letters to loved ones and choose his last meal. In the case of foreign nationals who have been sentenced to death in Guelphia, their families and diplomatic missions are also given at least seven days notice.

Whilst they can be housed in any of the five prisons, in practice Guelphia's condemned inmates are only ever housed in the specially built wings of Aldaton and Hillsborough prisons. It is in the these two prisons that gallows have been erected, and all the ancillary support for the execution has been set up. The inmates are housed in cells which much larger than those reserved for ordinary prisoners. Depending on their behaviour, they may be afforded privileges such access to pre-recorded television and recent newspapers. In order to prevent undue stress, visitation rights cease 48 hours before the sentence is carried out.

Executions in Guelphia always take place at 09:00 on a weekday and are by the long drop method of hanging. This is the same system developed in the United Kingdom, and has been used by Guelphia since 1977. When preparing for the execution, the executioner refers to the Official Table of Drops as revised in 1913.

Notable cases

References and notes

  1. The importation of Schedule 1 drugs was made a capital offence on 1 July 2011 with the commencement of the Criminal Code (Misuse of Drugs Penalties Amendment) Act.
  2. Criminal Procedure Act (Public Act No. 13 of 1971). §119.
  3. Criminal Procedure Act Second Schedule

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