Loss of Control
This partial defence is only available for murder. Section 54-55 Coroners and Justice Act 2009. Section 54 replaces the common law defence of provocation and the statutory defence under section 3 of the Homicide Act 1957.
Section 54 states:
‘Where a person (the defendant) kills or is a party to the killing of another (the victim), He is not to be convicted of murder if
· The defendant’s acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the killing resulted from the defendants loss of self-control,
· The loss of self-control had a qualifying trigger,
· A person of the defendant’s sex and age, with a normal degree of tolerance and self-restraint and in the circumstances as the defendant, might have reacted in the same or in a similar way.
There are three key elements to this defence:
· The defendant must kill as a result of loss of self-control;
· This loss of self-control must have been caused by a recognised “qualifying trigger”;
· A person with normal self-control might have reacted in a similar way in the defendants situation
“The Loss of Self Control”
S54(2) states that the loss of self-control does not need to be sudden. In other words there may be a time delay between the qualifying trigger and the reaction of the defendant in killing the victim. However, there must still be a loss of self-control. Therefore the longer the delay, the less likely is the judge to leave the defence to the jury, or the jury to believe that the killing resulted from a loss of self-control.
The case of Ibrams and Gregory (1981) CA illustrates this point. The defendants and a young woman had been terrorised by the victim. They devised a plan, which involved the woman enticing the deceased to her bed, whereupon the defendants would burst into the room and attack him. They carried out this plan four days later, but killed their victim. At their trial, the judge withdrew from the jury the defence of provocation. They were convicted of murder, so appealed. The appeal was turned down: their attack had not been a sudden loss of self-control, but had been planned over many days. Such delay and evidence of planning would still operate against the defendant. Furthermore, it would be evidence of a considered desire for revenge. S54(4) specifically invalidates the defence where the killing is motivated by such a desire. Baillie would be a relevant case to consider under the previous law. Baillie discovered that his sons had been supplied with drugs and threatened with violence by a drug dealer. He took his sawn-off shotgun and cut-throat razor, and drove round to the estate where the dealer lived. On the way he was delayed by a minor road accident. After an argument at the house of the dealer, he fired his gun and killed the man. The judge told the jury to…