Discuss liability for voluntary manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is a category of unlawful homicide, which applies where a defendant who would otherwise be guilty of murder can plead one of two specific partial defences. If a defendant successfully pleads a partial defence he may be found guilty of manslaughter, allowing more discretion in sentencing.
Allows a partial defence for defendants suffering from wider range of mental health issues, under S52 of Coroners and Justice Act 2009(CJA 2009).
Abnormality of mental functioning
Defendant must be suffering an
abnormality of mental functioning.
Case law developed under term
abnormality of mind(Homicide Act 1957 ( HA 1957)).
Lord Parker defined
abnormality of mind :
.. a state of mind so different from that of ordinary human beings that the reasonable man would term it abnormal... (Byrne (1960)).
Recognised medical condition
There must be medical evidence to confirm an
abnormality of mental functioning caused by the
recognised medical condition.
recognised medical condition broad, covers physical and psychological conditions, including pre-menstrual tension(English (1981)), post natal depression (Reynolds (1998)) and Battered Woman’s Syndrome (Ahluwalia (1992)).
abnormality of mental functioning must
substantially impair his mental responsibility for his conduct.
Substantial means more than minimal but not necessarily total and is a decision for a jury (Lloyd (1967)).
Impairment must be in relation to one of three aspects of defendant’s mental responsibility.
Ability to understand the nature of his conduct
Defendant is acting automatically and not aware of his conduct, may include delusions.
Form a rational judgement
Defendant does know the nature of his conduct but cannot form a rational judgement about his conduct, including paranoia (Martin ).
Exercise self control
Defendant has a
recognised medical condition which prevents him from exercising self control (Byrne (1960)).
Provides an explanation
Causal connection must be proved that the
substantially impairment to the defendant’s mental responsibility provides an explanation for his conduct.
More complex if defendant was intoxicated at time of the killing, general rule that intoxication cannot support a defence of diminished responsibility (Di Duca (1959)).
.. the important question is: did that abnormality substantially impair his mental responsibility for his acts in doing the killing?.. (Dietschmann (2003)).
Fact defendant is intoxicated may be irrelevant (Hendy (2006) and Robson (2006)).
Alcohol Dependence Syndrome (ADS) is a
recognised medical condition, a sufferer cannot control their drinking.
A key factor is whether defendant exercised control over their intoxication (Tandy (1989)).
Loss of control
Loss of control, under S54 of CJA 2009, replaces defence of provocation, found in the HA 1957.
Defendant must prove they lost self control, there was a qualifying trigger and person of the same sex and age would have reacted in the same way in the circumstances.
Loss of self control
Defendant must prove loss of control at the time of killing.
There must be a
qualifying trigger, defined under S55 of CJA 2009.
Fear of violence may be a qualifying trigger, defendant does not have to fear violence from victim, but cannot be a general fear, it must relate to a specific identified person. Under provocation it was not sufficient (Martin ).
Things said or done may be a qualifying trigger, if they are proved to be
extremely grave character and caused the defendant to have a
justifiable sense of being seriously wronged. Tests were not part of provocation.
Sexual infidelity explicitly excluded as a qualifying trigger under S55(6)(c).
Revenge explicitly excluded under S54(4). As provocation required a sudden loss of control, if defendant had time to consider revenge, defence unavailable (Ibrahms and Gregory (1981)). However, if there was an element of revenge, then provocation was available (Baillie (1995)).
Standard of self control
Sex and age are the relevant characteristics to be considered, under S54 of CJA 2009. Principle developed under case law (Camplin ) and (Attorney General for Jersey v Holley ).
Circumstances of the defendant
Other circumstances of defendant may be taken into account in deciding whether a person
with a normal degree of tolerance and self-restraint may have reacted in the same way.
Defendant killed victim, defendant had been sexually abused as a child and victim tried to sexually assault him. He successfully argued provocation (Hill (2008)).