Killing an abusive partner may no longer be murder


Inactive User
Mar 5, 2006
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Planet - Earth
The premeditated killing of an abusive partner may no longer lead to a murder conviction, under proposals for the most radical shake-up to the laws in 50 years.

Those who could show they were responding to a "fear of serious violence" would be punished for manslaughter and escape a mandatory life sentence, under the plans. Proof of having acted spontaneously would not be required.

The reforms, to be unveiled by the Ministry of Justice, would also allow a defence for someone who could show they killed in response to an exceptional case of abusive "words and conduct" over a long period.

This would not include the discovery of infidelity, meaning the "crime of passion" defence would be scrapped, and husbands who kill their partner because they have been unfaithful or are nagging would no longer be able to plead the partial defence of provocation.

The 'provocation' defence will, however, also be available to those driven to kill in other extreme circumstances - such as during a confrontation with a rapist or paedophile.

According to the Ministry of Justice the reforms are an attempt to redress a centuries-old disparity in how the laws impact on men and women. They say it is currently too easy for men to defend killing an unfaithful female partner, and too difficult for women with violent male partners to mount a similar defence.

Harriet Harman, the Deputy Labour Leader and Women's Secretary, told the Daily Telegraph: "The lawyers call it the 'nagging and s*******' defence - men kill their partners and explain it away by saying that she was unfaithful or was planning to leave him.

"It's unacceptable if you've lost a sister, or a mother, to then be told it's her fault because she provoked him.

"Changing the law will end this injustice of women being killed by their husband and the injustice of them then being blamed. And it will end the injustice of the perpetrators making excuses saying it's not their fault.''

Parents who kill a paedophile they catch molesting their child will also be among the select group able to plead not guilty to murder, under the shake-up. Rape victims who retaliate against a taunting attacker will also be able to legitimately claim they had been provoked, and plead manslaughter.

The Ministry of Justice also suggested that the defence could also be open to a person engaged in a long-running feud with a neighbour which ended in one being killed.

Last year, 83 women and 27 men were killed by their partner or ex-partner.

Vera Baird, the Solicitor General, said: ``When I was a practising barrister I did many court cases defending battered women who killed their violent partners.

"The new partial defence of killing from losing self control from fear of serious violence would provide a tailored response to cases like these and make it easier for justice to be done."

A spokesman for Justice for Women added: "We have long called for the law of provocation to be tightened up. It seems to be uneven for the behaviour which is acceptable for women and for men charged with murder."

Maria Eagle, the Justice Minister, insisted that the "slow burn" defence in cases of long-term suffering would be given a high threshold.

She said: "This is a substantial change. But we would not want to introduce anything that would allow cold, calculating killers to get away with it."

The consultation paper also includes plans to make it easier to prosecute gang members if they were present during a murder, even if they did not wield the murder weapon.

The proposals, contained in the homicide consultation paper, are based on a review of the murder laws by the Law Commission two years ago.

They will be open to public input for six weeks before being put before Parliament in the autumn.

They would also see the partial defence of diminished responsibility abolished, to be replaced with a more precisely defined defence of suffering from "recognised medical conditions".

The move comes as the Home Office published a map of domestic homicide, showing wide variations in the numbers of women killed by a current or ex partner across police forces around the country.

It shows that three wives and girlfriends out of a 100,000 are killed each year in Humberside, compared to 0.5 in Avon and Somerset.

Ms Harman said that the map proved that police forces which have projects to intervene to help victims of domestic violence are able to prevent them going on to become murder victims.


DW Regular
Jan 27, 2006
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Can't even take a bit of good old fashioned revenge any more on cheating wives, this country is going down the pan. Liberalism gone too far.

Crime of passion does not exist in modern times. There is no such thing as monogamy any more, this draconian law should have been abolished years ago as many people cheat whilst in relationships, you shouldn't be expected to to get off killing someone with this defence.


If my wife committed adultery I'd kill her and then expect some sympathy from my mates and not a life sentence from the courts.