Loss of self-control

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  • Loss of control
    • definition
      • s54 Coroners and Justice Act 2009
        • where D kills or is a party to the killing of another they are not to be convicted of murder if:
          • if the act or omission resulted from a loss of self-control
          • the loss of self-control had a qualifying trigger
          • a person D's sex and age with a normal degree of tolerance and self restraint might have reacted the same way in the circumstances
    • Loss of self-control - S52 (2) and (4)
      • must be no self-control at the time of the act which causes death
      • loss of self-control need not be sudden
        • old law of provocation held loss of self control must be sudden
          • Ahluwalia (1992) - physically abused over many years by husband and one night before bed he threatened her with violence unless she paid bill next day.
            • after husband fell asleep she poured petrol over him and set him alight, he died six days later
            • CA rejected appeal based on provocation
              • held that act had to be sudden rather than immediate
              • the longer the delay the more deliberate the act
            • CA did allow her appeal on basis of diminished responsibility
    • Qualifying Trigger
      • s.55 sets out qualifying triggers which are permitted
      • s55(3) - D's fear of serious violence from V against D or another identified person
        • Martin (Anthony) (2002) - showed that old law of provocation did not allow a defence where D lost control through fear of violence
        • must be identifiable source - general fear is insufficient
      • s.55(4) - a thing said or done (or both) which:
        • constitutes circumstances of an extremely grave character
        • cause D to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged
        • test is tighter than old law
          • many cases which were able to use provocation wouldn't be able to use new defence
        • Doughty (1986) - killed baby son aged 19 days because child wouldn't stop crying
          • an example of a case where D was able to use defence bot unlikely to be able to use loss of self-control now
      • excluded matters
        • s.55 (6) (c) - sexual infidelity
        • s55(6) (a)  and (b) - if D incited thing done or said out of a considered desire for revenge
          • Ibrams and Gregory (1981) - ex-boyfriend of I's current GF had been visiting flat that Ibrams and gf shared terrorising them
            • made planned attack to kill ex-boyf on 10th and carried out on 12th Oct
            • convicted of murder as had made planned revenged attack
            • gap of 5 days inbetween mean that there was no sudden loss of self-control
          • Baillie (1995) - D learnt that son's drug dealer had threatened that son 'would get a slap' if he tried to get drugs from another dealer
            • inflicted serious harm and shot him when he fled away
            • CA allowed appeal because there was evidence of provocation and it was for the jury to decide if D was still suffering from loss of self-control
    • standard of self-control
      • D's age and sex are relevant
      • need for a normal degree of tolerance and self-restraint
      • s.54(3) - emphasises that circumstances whose only relevance to D's conduct is they they bear on D's general capacity for tolerance or self restraint are not to be considered
        • jury cannot consider any circumstances of D which may have made him less self-control
      • Camplin (1978) - 15yr-old-boy had been sexually abused by older man who laughed at him. D reacted by hitting man over head with Chipatti pan
        • HL allowed for appeal and held that D's sex and age should be taken into account in assessing the power of self control to be expected of D
          • confirmed by Privy Council in A-G for Jersey v Holley (2005)
            • held that none of D's characteristics other than sex and age were relevant in assessing D's ability to exercise self-control
    • circumstances of the defendant
      • a range of factors can be taken into account when considering where a normal person might have reacted in the same way or similar way in the circumstances
      • Gregson (2006) - V taunted about his unemployment epilepsy and depression. D lost control and killed V
        • D more sensitive to taunts due to epilepsy and depression
        • unemployment, epilepsy and depression could be considered in deciding gravity of provocation to him
      • Clinton (2012) - C was abusive and suspicious. C's wife left him and he found evidence of her sexual infidelity on Facebook. when she returned home to sort out kills C killed her
        • trial judge did not allow defence to go to jury as sexual infidelity excluded by 2009 act
        • no evidence capable of being a qualified trigger so convicted of murder
        • Lord justice judge made several points about loss of control:
          • old law is relevant
          • sexual infidelity is to be disregarded as a qualifying trigger
            • however, the context of infidelity is not to be excluded if its effects are sufficiently serious on an objective basis to be a qualifying trigger
          • verbal admissions of sexual infidelity or evidence as such are also excluded
          • under s54 (1) (c) impact of sexual infidelity is not excluded when looking at circumstances in which D has reacted and lost control
            • everything except those being on the general capacity for tolerance and self-restraint should be considered


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