VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER • In this lecture, we will consider the reduction of liability from murder to voluntary manslaughter on the grounds of: • Diminished responsibility; • Provocation.
DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY • Defence was introduced by s.2 Homicide Act 1957. • Defence is only available on a charge of murder. • If the defence is successfully pleaded, D is convicted of manslaughter rather than murder.
Requirements for the defence The D must satisfy 3 requirements for the defence to be left to the jury: • D was suffering from abnormality of mind at the time he killed. • The abnormality of mind arose from one of the specified causes. • The abnormality of mind was such as to substantially impair his mental responsibility.
Abnormality of mind • Defined in Byrne • The defence, unlike insanity, will be available to someone who kills due to an irresistible impulse, as in Byrne itself.
Specified causes • The abnormality of mind must be due to a condition/cause falling within the brackets in s.2.
The reference to specified cause was intended to exclude from the ambit of the defence emotions such as hate, jealousy or rage. However, there have been a few cases where such emotions have given rise to the defence viz Miller - jealousy and Coles - rage.
Tandy (1989) - Self-induced intoxication will not give rise to the defence. • If, however, D is an alcoholic, this may give rise to an abnormality of the mind if it can be proved: • (a) alcohol has so injured the brain that there was gross impairment of judgement of emotional responses or • (b) D suffered from an irresistible craving for drink so that his intoxication would be treated as involuntary.
Other conditions which have given rise to the defence - a non-exhaustive list • chronic depression - Seers (1984) • epilepsy – Campbell (1986) • battered wife syndrome – Ahluwalia (1993) • PMT - Smith (1982)
Whether the abnormality of mind was such as to substantially impair his mental responsibility should be left as a question of fact for the jury which ought to approach it in a broad, common-sense way (Byrne).
Where there is evidence that D was suffering from abnormality of mind due to more than one cause, one of which was not a specified cause, the jury must be directed according to the direction given in Dietschmann (2003)HL.
The same set of facts can form the basis of a defence of insanity and of diminished responsibility - see s.6 Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964.
PROVOCATION • Partial defence to murder alone. • Reduces murder to manslaughter. • The legal burden of proof is on the prosecution to disprove the defence.
Definition • See Duffy (1949) and s.3 Homicide Act 1957.
How did s.3 modify the defence? • Words may now constitute provocation. • It is no longer necessary for the provocation to emanate from V or be directed at D. See, e.g. Pearson (1992).
What type of conduct can amount to provocation? • Anything – words, actions. Provocation can be something trivial e.g. a baby crying, see Doughty (1986). • It may be self –induced, see Johnson (1989) • Provocation can also be cumulative, see later.
(1) the subjective question - was D provoked to lose his self control and did he kill during that loss of self-control? • (2) the objective question - would the reasonable man have been provoked to do as D did?
SUBJECTIVE QUESTION • Can D rely on provocation where there has been a time gap between the provocation and the killing? • Relevant caselaw: • Ibrams & Gregory (1982) • Baillie (1995) • Ahluwalia
CUMULATIVE PROVOCATION • When can D rely upon cumulative provocation? • See Thornton (1995) and Humphreys (1995)- the subjective test may only be satisfied if the long period of provocation culminated in a final act of provocation which caused D to snap.
For the impact of slow burn anger which affects some women suffering from battered wife syndrome, see Ahluwalia: • “Sudden” does not mean “immediate.” Rather, it seems to mean a loss of the powers of reflection for the time being but the longer the delay and the stronger the evidence of deliberation on D’s part, the more likely the defence will fail.
THE OBJECTIVE QUESTION • Who is the reasonable man? • Relevant caselaw: • DPP v Camplin (1978) HL – characteristics which affect the gravity of the provocation to D should be taken into account. • Morhall (1995) HL – circumstances as well as characteristics may be taken into account as can characteristics which are merely temporary or discreditable.
Smith (2000) HL – characteristics which affect D’s powers of self-control can be taken into account. • Weller (2003) – it is no longer possible for the judge to rule certain characteristics in and some out but he can direct on the weight to be attached to those characteristics.
The reasonable man test • In Smith, 2 of their Lordships - Lord Hoffman and Lord Clyde - suggested that it was no longer necessary to direct in terms of the reasonable man. • However, see Jenkins (2002).
There is now an overlap between provocation and diminished responsibility.
“and do as D did” • D may still rely upon provocation even if the means by which he responded to the provocation were different to the manner in which he was provoked e.g. D does not have to have answered fists with fists, see: • Brown (1972); • Phillips (1969); • Smith