Discuss the Criminal Liability of Anya (Voluntary Manslaughter Essay)

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Criminal Law (OCR) G153: Voluntary Manslaughter Essay. (January, 2010).
Anya, 20, lives with her boyfriend Samir, 45. Samir makes Anya have sex with his friends and is
violent when drunk. Anya has tried to commit suicide several times and her doctor has prescribed
anti-depressants. Samir comes home drunk, hits Anya and tells her she must have sex with three of
his friends later. Anya takes an overdose of anti-depressants but is violently sick immediately. Samir
laughs at Anya and tells her to be ready to meet his friends in two hours. Anya thinks for an hour
and decides she has had enough. Samir has fallen asleep watching television. Anya grabs a heavy
lamp and smashes it over Samir's head repeatedly, killing him.
Discuss the criminal liability, if any, of Anya. (50 marks).
Lord Coke defined murder as: "The unlawful killing of a reasonable person in being and under [Queen's]
Peace with malice aforethought, express or implied". In other words, it is the unlawful killing of a person with
either direct or oblique intention. When talking about "direct intention" we are talking about when the
defendant intended to cause the specific consequence, whereas oblique is when the defendant intends one
thing but as a result of achieving their goal another result occurs. In the case of Anya it appears that she has
"direct" intention as it is obvious that she wanted to kill Samir.
Due to the fact that Anya hit him over the head, the actus reus of murder will be satisfied as it
resulted in the unlawful killing. Furthermore, she struck him repeatedly and therefore it suggests that the
necessary intention is evidence. Therefore, it is likely she will be convicted of murder.
However, it is possible that due to the circumstances she could claim one of two defences:
provocation or diminished responsibility. If these defences are successful then the offence will be reduced
from murder to voluntary manslaughter. The purpose for this is so that the Judge has more discretion in the
sentencing process; this is one of the main criticisms of murder in that the judge must give a mandatory life
sentence to a defendant who may not have intended death but caused it. Here they would get the same
charge as someone who intended death; this appears unfair. Voluntary manslaughter allows the Judge to
have a more open sentencing process and so allows for a "fairer" trial.
In the case of Anya it is clear that she has suffered with many years of abuse with Samir and so it
would appear unfair to punish her in the same way as someone who caused the death of someone simply
because of the individual's race or sexuality.
Both the defences for murder appear in the Homicide Act (1957). Provocation can be found in
section 3 (s.3). The defence has be defined as "where, on a charge of murder, there is evidence on which the
jury can find that they person charged was provoked (whether by "things done or by things said") [causing] a
loss of control". The definition imposes two questions to be given to the jury to determine whether the
defendant can use "provocation" as a defence; they are: did the defendant lose his self-control? (Subjective
test), and would a reasonable person have lost his self-control? (Objective test).
The victim does not have to aim the provocation directly at the defendant (Doughty, 1986). In this
case the Court of Appeal held that it is up to the jury to decide whether the baby's crying was provocation by
"things done". It is clear that a 19-day old child is not deliberately provoking an individual.
To test whether the defendant the jury use the "Duffy Test", this was set out in the case of Duffy
(1949) where it was held that there must be a "sudden and temporary loss of control" due to the defendant
losing control of his own mind. This means that the longer the period of time between the victims provoking
behaviour and the defendant's actions matters. The longer the time period between the two weakens the
likelihood of the defendant being able to use the defence. This idea is presented in Ibrams and Gregory
(1981); here the Court of Appeal held that a gap of five days made their defence not effective due to the
"cooling off period". However, this does not mean that there cannot be a time lapse ­ in the case of Baillie
Page | 1 Jamie Cockcroft.

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Criminal Law (OCR) G153: Voluntary Manslaughter Essay. (January, 2010).
(1995) it was held that even though there may be a time lapse between the victim's actions and the
defendants, there can still be held to be a "sudden and temporary loss of control".
However, this idea of "sudden and temporary loss of control" appears to favour men more than
women. This is because a man is more likely to respond quickly where a woman could take time to respond.…read more

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Criminal Law (OCR) G153: Voluntary Manslaughter Essay. (January, 2010).
Furthermore, she appears to be suffering with battered woman syndrome and depression; these will be
taken into account when considering whether a reasonable person with similar characteristics would have
done the same.
However, the defence of provocation may not succeed with Anya and so she may consider the use
of diminished responsibility. This is found in s.2 (1) of the Homicide Act (1957).…read more


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