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Voluntary Manslaughter


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Voluntary Manslaughter
"Murder with an excuse" - murder, but with a successful partial defence which drops the charge to manslaughter.
Loss of Control
A partial defence for murder only - when successful, this substitutes a charge of murder with voluntary manslaughter. Found in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. The wording in s54.1 ('kills' and 'killing') means that the defence will not be applicable to a charge of attempted murder.
s56.1 CoJA
This section tells us the common law defence of provocation is abolished and replaced by sections 54 and 55 (i.e. Loss of Control).
s54.7 CoJA
If D pleads Loss of Control successfully, D will be found guilty of manslaughter instead of murder.
s54.5 CoJA
Sufficient evidence must be provided by D in order to plead LoC. The duty then lies with the prosecution to disprove it, beyond reasonable doubt.
R v Acott
This case confirms there must be 'sufficient evidence'. D was a 48 year old man financially dependent on his mother - he pushed her down the stairs and said he was provoked. After being convicted of murder, D appealed on the grounds that the trial judge didn't raise the defence of Loss of Control with the jury; however, the appeal was dismissed due to a lack of 'sufficient evidence'.
s54.1a CoJA
Test 1 for Loss of Control - D suffered from a loss of self-control.
R v Ibrams and Gregory
Ds were boyfriend and girlfriend, living together. Girlfriend's ex comes round, forces the door open on multiple occasions and pesters the boyfriend. Police do nothing when contacted, and the ex continues to pester. A plan was soon formulated for the girlfriend to get ex drunk and seduce him, continue to invite him round for the boyfriend to discover and beat up. Ex is killed - defence fails due to evidence of pre-meditation/planning.
s54.2 CoJA
This section tells us there is no requirement that the loss of control is 'sudden'. Also known as the slow burn reaction.
R v Ahluwalia
D's spouse, V, was a controlling and abusive husband from an arranged marriage. After V fell asleep, D made a flammable mixture and poured it on him before setting him alight. The defence failed due to her taking time to make the mixture - the loss of control wasn't immediate.
s54.1b CoJA
Test 2 for Loss of Control - D's loss of control must be based on one (or both) of two 'qualifying triggers'.
s55.3 CoJA
One of two qualifying triggers - a fear of serious harm from V against D or another identified person.
Pearson
Two brothers, Malcolm (16) and William (17), killed their violent, abusive father by taking it in turns to beat him over the head with a sledgehammer. M had suffered worst, being abused for eight years, during which time W had largely been abroad. However, W had returned home to protect M. M was convicted of manslaughter, but W of manslaughter. On appeal the murder charge was varied to manslaughter on the grounds that the judge failed to direct the jury to take account of the effect on W of the father's treatment of M, even when W had been away. W had anticipated violence from V against another identified person, namely M; this allowed W to use the first qualifying trigger successfully.
s55.4 CoJA
One of two qualifying triggers - a thing or things said or done (or both) which constituted circumstances of an extremely grave character and caused D to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged.
R v Baillie
D told by his teenage son that him and his brothers are being threatened by their drug dealer over unpaid debt. D kills drug dealer.
s55.5 CoJA
A loss of self-control triggered by a combination of both 'fear of serious violence' and 'things done or said' will suffice to satisfy test 2 for loss of control.
R v Humphreys
D threatened by her older boyfriend/pimp with gangbang / rape; her failed suicide attempt was then mocked by V - this case features both triggers.
s55.6c CoJA
Sexual infidelity is ruled out as a trigger - 'the fact that a thing done or said constituted sexual infidelity is to be disregarded'.
s55.6.c CoJA
Test 3 for Loss of Control - A person of D's sex and age, with a normal degree of tolerance and self-restraint in the same circumstances as D, would have reacted in the same way.
DPP v Camplin
D was 15 year old boy who was 'buggered' by his boss, and subsequently laughed at. D grabbed a chapatti pan and hit V over the head with it, cracking his skull and killing him. Held that although a reasonable man would have went to the police, a reasonable 15 year-old would have reacted in the same way.
Diminished Responsibility
A partial defence for murder only - when successful, this substitutes a charge of murder with voluntary manslaughter (s2(3)). Found in s2 of the Homicide Act as amended by s52 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009
s2 Homicide Act
This section specifies the requirement of medical evidence in order to plead Diminished Responsibility successfully.
Dunbar
Shows us the defence must be proven by the defendant on a balance of probabilities.
Test #1 for Diminished Responsibility
s2(1) HA as amended by CoJA 2009 - abnormality of mental functioning.
R v Byrne
D was a sexual psychopath who strangled a young woman and mutilated her body. Medical evidence showed that because of his condition he was unable to control his desires. CA described an 'abnormality of mind' (case was pre-reform) was something so different from that of ordinary human beings that the reasonable man would term it abnormal.
Test #2 for Diminished Responsibility
Abnormality has arisen from a recognised medical condition.
Wood
An example of a recognised medical condition. In this case, alcoholism.
Hobson
An example of a recognised medical condition. In this case, battered wife syndrome.
Bailey
An example of a recognised medical condition. In this case, epilepsy.
Moyles
An example of a recognised medical condition. In this case, psychopathy.
Vingre
An example of a recognised medical condition. In this case, Othello syndrome (i.e. severe jealousy).
Jama
An example of a recognised medical condition. In this case, aspergers.
Test #3 for Diminished Responsibility
Which substantially impairs D's ability to: a) understand the nature of their conduct, b) form a rational judgement or c) exercise self-control. This must also provide an explanation for D's actions. Not all of these three criteria need to be fulfilled.
R v Lloyd
In this case it was held that 'substantial' doesn't mean total, nor does it mean trivial. It's something in between the two - the jury are left to decide whether the D's mental responsibility is impaired, and if so if it's substantially impaired. (Regards test 3 for diminished responsibility)
Erskine
An example of a recognised medical condition. In this case, schizophrenia.
Dietschmann
Regards intoxication and Diminished Responsibility. Held that the question to ask is: "Would the defendant have had the abnormality of mental functioning had they been sober?" - in D's case, yes. The question is NOT, however, "Would D have done it if they were sober".