Getting away with Murder…What
you need to know!
There are two types of manslaughter:
Voluntary Manslaughter- D would be guilty of
murder but has successfully raised a defence
(Involuntary Manslaughter- lacks the
necessary mens rea for murder (no
maliceaforthought) but can be can be
convicted of constructive or gross negligence
1. What defences can reduce a charger of murder to
Diminished responsibility, Suicide Pact or Provocation.
2. What is the required mens rea for murder?
3. What is voluntary manslaughter?
D has committed murder but successfully raised a
4. What is involuntary manslaughter?
D has caused the death of V but lack the necessary
mens rea. Gross negligence or constructive
A jury hearing the case of a man accused of murdering his daughter has heard the
contents of sexual emails between his wife and her lover. Hospital radiographer Gavin Hall,
33, killed three-year-old Amelia as her mother and sister slept in their Northamptonshire home.
Mr Hall, of Irchester, denies murder but admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished
DAUGHTER KILLED MUM IN A FRENZIED KNIFE ATTACK
Stabbing was in revenge for child being taken into care
A woman who admitted stabbing her mother to death in a frenzied attack in revenge for her child being taken into care has been sentenced to an indefinite hospital
Schizophrenic Nicola Edgington, 26, killed churchgoer mum Marion during what was supposed to be a happy family gathering at the 60-year-old's home in Forest
Mrs Edgington had chillingly predicted her "wayward" daughter may try to harm her because of the grievance.
The "much-loved" mother-of-three had lived in fear of her own child and had cut her out of her will because she was so worried about her mental state.
Nicola Edgington admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Lewes Crown Court this week and was sentenced under the Mental Health
The court heard she had an "attachment" to a cousin who had also stabbed someone to death.
There are special defences available to
people who commit murder if they can show
one of the following:
All the above defences set out in Homicide
What do Partial defences
Defendant is not completely acquitted.
Instead the charge of murder is reduced to
This gives Judges flexibility to decide what
sort of sentence to impose.
E.g. If D is not dangerous, he or she may
only be given a short sentence.
What happened in Byrne (1960)?
So what is Diminished
Copy out Section 2 (1) of the Homicide Act
Your Client Farra Nuts has come to you because
she has killed Saman Sam in a moment of road
rage, she was a passenger in a car driven by Ibraa
What does Farra Nuts need to prove to plead
D strangled to death and then mutilated a young woman, confessing
to both in full. D raised the defence of diminished responsibility.
Since childhood he had suffered from perverted sexual desires that
created irresistible impulses. His acts were driven by one of these
impulses on the day in question.
He was originally convicted of murder. But CA overturned this,
despite him being able to tell the difference between right and
wrong etc… He clearly had an irresistible impulse where he
could not control his sick desires and therefore he had
abnormality of mind.
Held: Diminished responsibility covers all the activities of the mind.
Abnormality of the mind does not have to be connected with
Medical experts described D’s condition as amounting to partial
D stabbed his estranged wife and claimed
diminished responsibility on grounds of chronic
reactive depression. The trial judge directed that for
the defence to be successful Seers had to be
bordering on the insane.
CA Held: The judge’s direction was wrong! The
required abnormality of mind can cover severe
shock or depression especially in cases of mercy
killings and pre-menstrual syndrome.
The test of borderline or partial insanity had been
appropriate in the case of R v Byrne.
Guilty of manslaughter
Create a brainstorm on
Abnormality of Mind…
What is Substantial?
The abnormality of mind must be substantial
But what is substantial?
In Byrne the court said whether the impairment was
substantial was for the jury to decide
However in Lloyd 1967 substantial does not mean total
nor does it mean trivial or minimal. It is something in
between and is for the jury to decide.
However as impairment of the mind is a qu of fact the judge
can withdraw this point from the jury if there is no
evidence on which a reasonable jury could conclude that
the D mental responsibility was impaired.
OK I’M LOADED ON BOOZE
AND DRUGS CAN I PLEAD
Diminished Responsibility and
In DiDuca (1959)
Key Word: Transient: lasting only a short
In this case CA held that that the instant
effects of drugs and alcohol did not amount to
an injury, even if it did affect the brain.
Therefore a transient state of intoxication
does not become an ABNORMALITY OF
If the brain has been injured through
alcoholism then you can support a finding for
thing… I am
Tandy (1989) an alcoholic
and not a
D, an alcoholic, had drunk nearly a bottle of vodka when she
strangled her 11 yr old daughter. (She normally drank Vermouth
or Barley wine),
Held: In order for a craving for drink to produce an ‘abnormality
of mind’ caused by alcoholism, there had to be:
1. grossly impaired judgement and emotional responses.
2. or the craving had to be such as to make the first drink of
alcohol of the day involuntary.
But, if the accused had simply not resisted an impulse to drink
she could not rely on the defence of diminished responsibility
and if D took the first drink of the day voluntarily, the whole of
the drinking on that day was voluntary, and diminished
responsibility was not available to her.
'If the alcoholism has reached the level at which her brain
had been injured by the repeated insult from intoxicants so
that there was gross impairment of her judgment and
emotional responses, then the defence of diminished
responsibility was available to her ... if her drinking was
involuntary, then her abnormality of the mind at the time of
the act of strangulation was induced by her condition of
Guilty of murder.
Do you think the decision in Tandy (1989)
and Inseal (1992) is fair?
Where a mother kills her recently born child
Mother does not have a younger child
And if balance of her mind was disturbed by
reason of her not having fully recovered from
the effect of giving birth to the child or by
reasons of effects of lacerations
consequential upon the birth
MENTAL DISORDER +
What happens if a persons already has some
abnormality of mind and is also intoxicated?
D was suffering from depression. During a visit home from
hospital he argued with his wife and beat her to death and then
raped and killed his stepdaughter. At the time of the offence he
had been drinking and taking drugs for depression.
Held: D can benefit from DR if the inherent causes like
depression would have caused him kill whether or not he took
drugs or drank alcohol.
Guilty of manslaughter not murder
Dietschmann HL (2003)
Key Idea: Dietschmann was not ’new
law’ but simply explained what the
law had always been…
In this case D killed a man in a savage attack whilst
he was very drunk. He was also suffering from a
mental abnormality, called an adjustment disorder
which was a depressed grief reaction following the
death of his aunt, Sarah, with whom he had had a
close emotional and physical relationship.
Dietschmann HL (2003)
D charged with murder.
Case went to CA but appeal was dismissed.
Case went to HL to clarify the Law.
HL held that it was clear that abnormality of mind
substantially impaired his mental responsibility.
HELD: Jury must ignore the alcohol and just
consider the effect of mental abnormality at the time
of killing and consider whether it was sufficient to
substantially impair his responsibility.
Do we need to reform
1. Problems with the defence:
Burden of Proof
Wording of Relevant Statutes
2. Proposals for Reform
2. Evaluate the effectiveness of diminished
responsibility as a defence. [50 marks]
S 4(3) of the Homicide Act 1957 defines suicide pact
as a common agreement between two or more
people having for it’s object the death of all of them.
S 4(1) of the Homicide Act 1957 provides a defence
to murder for the survivor of a suicide pact.
Burden of proof there was suicide pact is on the
Standard of proof on balance of probabilities
S3 of the Homicide Act 1957 sets out the
defence of Provocation
Copy out s3 of the Homicde Act 1957 pg 84
Subjective Test-Did D loose his self control?
Objective Test-would a reasonable man have
lost his self control?
Physical assaults on D or relatives-Pearson 1992
Continual Crying of a 19 day old baby-Doughty 1986
A denial of stealing the D tools-Smith 2000
Supplying drugs to D son-Baillie 1995
Wife having an affair -Davies 1975
V does not have to deliberately aim the provocation
at the D
Loss of Self Control
Jury have to be satisfied that the D has lost his self control as a
result of provocation.
The test is a sudden and temporary loss of self control. Duffy
also upheld in many cases since.
Time lapse-the longer the gap between the provocation and the
killing the less likely the defence will succeed- Ibrams and
5 days since last provocation deemed too long for sudden loss of
However can be a gap -Baillie 1995 threat to children went got
gun drove to house then shot V
Can be small matter which is last straw- Thornton 2
Does not have to be immediate
Reasonable Man Test
Would reasonable man have acted the way the D
Was what would be expected of ordinary person-
Now takes into account characteristics of D-
Gravity of provocation- will be dependent on
characteristics of D
Self Control- expected to exercise reasonable self
control- reasonable to D with his characteristics
Currently reconsidering reform of Partial
Minded to amend provocation to be allowed
D acted in response to gross provocation or
fear of serious violence
A person of defendants age and ordinary
temperament (subjective test not reasonable
Look at the scenarios on pg 91 of Jacqueline
Give reasons for your answers.
3 Victoria is the wife and assistant of a knife-throwing expert,
Carl, who both work for a circus. Carl is renowned for his hot
temper and has recently been off work suffering from depression.
Their act consists of Victoria being strapped to a board whilst
Carl throws twenty knives all around her from a distance of five
metres to within as little as fifteen centimetres of her body. They
have been doing this for many years without a single mistake
and Carl regards his technique as perfect. One evening, just
before their act begins, Victoria tells Carl that she is having an
affair with the lion tamer, Wayne. Carl is shocked and enraged
but, at that moment, the fanfare strikes up for the start of their act
and Carl and Victoria enter the ring to start their performance.
The third knife Carl throws goes straight into Victoria’s heart,
killing her instantly.
Discuss Carl’s liability for Victoria’s death.