R v Martin (Anthony Edward) [2001] EWCA Crim 2245

Criminal law – Manslaughter – Diminished responsibility


Martin had shot two people that were trying to burgle his home. He killed one of them and wounded the other. At the initial trial, Martin attempted to claim self-defence but was unsuccessful. He was convicted by a majority of 10 to 2 for murder and wounding with intent. Martin was subsequently found to have a long standing, paranoid personality disorder. He later contended that his illness had affected how he measured the risk in the situation and appealed his conviction.


Martin relied on the case of R v Smith (Morgan James) [2001] which found that a jury should take into account a characteristic which would affect the self-control of an individual in a case which involved provocation. On this basis, the legal issue in question was whether the jury should have been able to consider Martin’s personality disorder alongside his defence in light of the circumstances.


Martin’s appeal was allowed in part. It was held that provocation and self-defence were different and that whilst an accused could employ the case of R v Smith for psychiatric consideration in provocation cases, it would only be in exceptional circumstances that this could be relied upon in understanding whether an individual had used reasonable force in self-defence. It was accepted however that physical characteristics could be taken into account. As a result of fresh evidence in relation to diminished responsibility, Martin’s conviction for murder was quashed and replaced for a conviction for manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility. Martin was sentenced to five years imprisonment.