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R v Clinton [2012] 2 All ER 947;

[2012] 1 Cr App R 26; [2012] 3 WLR 515; [2012] Crim LR 539; [2013] QB 1; [2012] EWCA Crim 2

MURDER, DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY, LOSS OF CONTROL, DEFENCE, SEXUAL INFIDELITY

Facts

In the first case, Clinton killed his wife in their family home because of her sexual infidelity. He was convicted of murder and arson by the Crown Court. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with minimum specified term of 26 years. The verdict was returned by the jury after the defence considering diminished responsibility. The judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence of loss of control for this issue to be considered by the jury. Clinton appealed.

In the second case, Parker killed his wife in their family home because of her sexual infidelity. The jury at the Crown Court rejected the loss of control defence and convicted him of murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum specified term of 17 years.

In the third case, Evans killed his wife in their family home because of her sexual infidelity. The jury at the Crown Court rejected the loss of control defence and convicted him of murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum specified term of 11 years.

Issue

Is the prohibition on sexual infidelity as a qualifying trigger to the defence of loss of control imposed by s.55(6)(c) Coroners and Justice Act 2009 a valid one?

Held

(1) If sexual infidelity was the only potential trigger to the harmful act, s.55(6)(c) Coroners and Justice Act 2009 has to be applied.

(2) If there are other circumstances though, in light of ss. 54(1)(c)and 54(3), sexual infidelity should be taken into account where it is integral to the facts as a whole, being one of the factors which caused the defendant to lose control.

Clinton’s appeal was allowed because the judge misdirected herself as to the relevance of infidelity and wrongly did not leave the matter to the jury.

Parker’s and Evan’s appeals were dismissed because their loss of control defences were put to the jury.


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