MANSLAUGHTER

The court reduced, from 11 years to 10 years’ imprisonment, the sentences imposed on the parents of a 17-week-old child following their convictions for causing or allowing her death. Although there were numerous aggravating features, including an attempt to cover up the circumstances of her death, insufficient weight had been given to the finding that the parents had had constructive, rather than actual, knowledge of the significant risk of serious harm to their child.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1686

A judge had not erred in imposing a sentence of life imprisonment upon an offender who pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility, rather than hospital and restriction orders under the Mental Health Act 1983 s.37 and s.41. Although fresh evidence had been produced, to the effect that the offender had been suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the offence, that evidence did not establish that the offending was entirely due to mental disorder. Even on the basis of the fresh evidence, the judge could not have concluded that the most suitable method of disposing of the case was by way of a s.37 order.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1460

Sentences of 13 years’ and nine years’ imprisonment were appropriate in the case of two men who had been convicted of manslaughter (one having pleaded guilty) after ambushing a man delivering pizzas and using violence to rob him.

[2017] EWCA Crim 986

A person suffering from schizophrenia who killed while intoxicated could rely on the defence of diminished responsibility if their condition was of such severity that, even without intoxication, it would have impaired their responsibility. They could also rely on the defence if the schizophrenia was coupled with drink or drug dependence which together substantially impaired responsibility.

[2017] EWCA Crim 647

The court refused an application made by various media organisations for disclosure of video recordings taken by a marine during the killing of a wounded insurgent in Afghanistan. The balance of the principles of open justice and the rights of the media under ECHR art.10 against the circumstances militating against disclosure lay against disclosure.

[2017] EWCA Crim 326

A marine whose conviction for the murder of a wounded insurgent in Afghanistan was quashed and replaced by a verdict of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and dismissed from the armed forces. In the absence of a Sentencing Council guideline for the offence of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, the court set out in detail the relevant factors for consideration.

[2017] EWCA Crim 325

A marine’s conviction for the murder of a wounded insurgent would be replaced by a verdict of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. At the time of the killing, the marine had been suffering from an adjustment disorder which substantially impaired his ability to form a rational judgment and exercise self-control.

[2017] EWCA Crim 190

A sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment was appropriate following a conviction for manslaughter where an 18-year-old offender had deliberately driven a stolen car at a police officer. The judge had been correct to find that a grave offence of manslaughter had been committed, with a very high degree of culpability. He had not erred in having regard to what the minimum term would have been if the offender had been convicted of murder.

[2017] EWCA Crim 305

Where an offender was convicted at trial and there was only one possible interpretation of the jury’s verdict, the judge had to sentence on that basis. However, where there was more than one possible interpretation of the verdict, the judge had to make up his own mind, to the criminal standard, as to the factual basis on which to pass sentence. Only if he was not sure of any of the interpretations, was he obliged to pass sentence on the basis of the interpretation most favourable to the defendant.

[2017] EWCA Crim 128

A judge’s direction in a murder trial as to the meaning of “substantial” impairment within the Homicide Act 1957 s.2 as regards the defence of diminished responsibility had amply complied with the guidance given in R. v Golds (Mark Richard) [2016] UKSC 61; she had not elaborated unduly and the conviction was safe. The offender’s sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 22 years, whilst severe, was not manifestly excessive.

The court was bound, by Clunis v Camden and Islington HA [1998] Q.B. 978 and Gray v Thames Trains Ltd [2009] UKHL 33, to reject on public policy grounds a damages claim brought by an individual who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility when, due to the defendant’s negligence, she suffered a psychotic episode and killed her mother. The ratio in Gray, preventing such an ex turpi causa claim from succeeding, applied even though the sentencing judge had found that she had not had significant personal responsibility for her actions.

[2016] EWHC 3275 (QB)

A jury had been entitled to convict two brothers of manslaughter where they had savagely assaulted a man who had subsequently died jumping out of a window to escape, despite there being evidence of a gap in time between the assault and the jump.

A sentence of 18 years’ imprisonment was appropriate in the case of a man who had been convicted of manslaughter and wounding with intent after stabbing his father to death and injuring his brother with the knife he was using.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1971

The court allowed three offenders’ appeals against their sentences for murder, manslaughter and perverting the course of justice. The minimum term applicable to the sentence of life imprisonment for murder was reduced from 18 years to 16 years, the custodial term of 12 years for the extended sentence for manslaughter was reduced to 10 years, and the sentence of three years and four months for perverting the course of justice was reduced to two years.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1644

A 10-year sentence, following a conviction for manslaughter, was increased to 15 years where the death had been the culmination of a campaign of domestic violence.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1740

A judge in a manslaughter trial had been right to refuse to admit evidence of the deceased’s alleged bad character in respect of allegations of drug misuse and sexual abuse. The allegations were not relevant to the issues in the case.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1849

Medical evidence detailing a baby’s injuries that had been shaken was sufficient to justify advice to an appellant that he caused serious bodily injury to the child and to plead guilty to a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm. A subsequent acquittal from manslaughter as the jury was satisfied that the shaking had not caused the cerebral injuries leading to the child’s death years later, did not mean that the defence advanced for manslaughter would have been a successful defence to inflicting grievous bodily harm.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1321

A sentence of life imprisonment imposed on a mentally disordered offender following his conviction for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was quashed, and replaced by a hospital order and a restriction order. New psychiatric evidence revealed the course of a deteriorating mental condition which required continuing hospital treatment, and it was imperative that the offender would be subject to appropriate medical supervision on release.

[2016] EWCA Crim 670

A judge in a manslaughter trial had not erred in allowing the prosecution to produce animations made by one of its expert witnesses which illustrated her opinion as to how the death had occurred. The decision was well within the ambit of the judge’s discretion under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.78 and he had directed the jury that animations did not constitute any form of independent scientific evidence.

[2016] EWCA Crim 681

A mentally disordered offender’s culpability and responsibility for killing his parents in a savage and sustained knife attack was significant, notwithstanding his diminished responsibility. A life sentence with a minimum term of 19 years and 73 days’ imprisonment, together with a hospital and limitation direction under the Mental Health Act 1983 s.45A, was appropriate.

[2016] EWCA Crim 733

The first and second appellants’ convictions for, respectively, the murder and manslaughter of a 15-year-old girl in 1981 were not rendered unsafe by the conduct, criticised in other cases, of the police officers involved in the investigation.

[2016] EWCA Crim 52

When imposing sentence for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, judges were entitled to consider what sentence might be appropriate in comparable cases involving murder, subject always to acknowledging the reduced culpability inherent in diminished responsibility cases. A vast disparity between sentences for murder and sentences for manslaughter in cases of diminished responsibility might be inimical to the good administration of justice where the manslaughter came close to murder.

[2016] EWCA Crim 577

Sentences of 10 and 15 years’ imprisonment respectively were appropriate for the manslaughter of a child committed by a mother and her close friend. The sentencing judge had fallen into error in sentencing one of the offenders on the basis that the child had also been subjected to physical abuse amounting to a form of torture, when that had not formed part of the indictment and had not been admitted or proved.

A judge had been entitled to put relevant previous convictions to a jury in a manslaughter trial where the defendant’s propensity to violence was relevant as to whether he had hit the deceased in self-defence or as the aggressor. A 14-year extended sentence was not manifestly excessive where it had been the defendant’s second conviction for manslaughter in similar circumstances.

It was appropriate to replace a life sentence imposed on an offender for the manslaughter of his father on the ground of diminished responsibility with an indeterminate custodial sentence with a minimum tariff of seven years. The court accepted that the offender suffered from a delusional disorder and his culpability was not as high as the evidence before the judge suggested. There was a compelling need for the offender to receive treatment and the Department of Justice should urgently consider making a prison transfer order.

[2015] NICA 57

ECHR art.7 had not been breached where an offender, sentenced in 2014 to life imprisonment for a manslaughter committed 14 years previously, had had his minimum term determined on current sentencing practice rather than the practice of the courts at the time of the offence. Unlike the minimum term for mandatory life sentences for murder which were subject to the statutory regime in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the calculation of the minimum term in discretionary life sentences for manslaughter was an exercise in judicial discretion.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1426

An offender who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. Evidence of his state of almost total mental turmoil at the time of the killing reduced his level of culpability, he did not pose a risk of serious harm and he could not be styled as dangerous.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1449

In a murder trial where diminished responsibility had been put in issue, deficiencies in psychiatric reports, in the cross-examination of psychiatrists and in the summing-up relating to the psychiatric evidence led to an unsafe murder conviction.

[2015] UKPC 34

A sentence of nine years’ imprisonment following a conviction for manslaughter was increased to 14 years where a judge had relied on outdated case law.

Where an offender who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter had driven dangerously, causing the victim to be dragged along by the car for over 100m before being thrown clear, a 10-year period of disqualification from driving was not manifestly excessive. The disqualification imposed was only one-and-a-half years longer than the custodial term imposed.

[2015] EWCA Crim 958

Offenders’ convictions for a joint enterprise murder were quashed and substituted for convictions for manslaughter and affray, where it was not clear that they both had the common intention to kill or cause serious harm.

A murder conviction was restored where The Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Antigua and Barbuda) had been wrong to find that a judge had not explained provocation to a jury: the judge had made it amply clear that provocation arose if and only if the ingredients of murder, including intent, were proved. Additionally, the Appeal Court’s decision to receive new defence evidence did not have to involve any finding that the evidence could reasonably have affected the outcome of the trial, and its subsequent determination that the new evidence added nothing to the agreed facts was correct.

[2015] UKPC 7

A sentence of 10-and-a-half years’ imprisonment imposed following guilty pleas to manslaughter and two counts of conspiracy to steal was increased to 12 years’ where the judge had failed to mark the gravity of the totality of the offending, where persistent and sophisticated criminality had caused the death of an innocent victim.

It was appropriate to quash an offender’s conviction for wounding with intent contrary to the Offences against the Person Act 1861 s.18, and to replace it with a conviction of simple wounding under s.20, where, on the facts, an alternative charge under s.20 should have been placed before the jury.

A sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment imposed on a father for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility where he had killed his daughter when suffering from an inability to make rational decisions was reduced to 17 years’ imprisonment as it did not give appropriate weight to the circumstances of the case.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2892

A minimum term of 13 years and four months was appropriate in the case of a 24-year-old man who had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his mother and sister. Although this was a case of diminished responsibility, the offender bore a significant responsibility, given his voluntary taking of drugs, for the killings.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1394

In a murder trial, a judge had been correct to exclude the possibility of an alternative verdict of manslaughter by reason of loss of control where the defendant maintained that his wife had attacked him and then committed suicide.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1418

A sentence of four years’ imprisonment imposed on an offender who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter arising from a full-force single punch to a defenceless victim was consistent with the sentencing practice set out in Attorney General’s Reference (Nos 60, 62 and 63 of 2009), Re [2009] EWCA Crim 2693, [2010] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 46 and was not unduly lenient.

[2014] EWCA Crim 956

An extended sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment was appropriate for manslaughter where the defendant had also raped the victim twice, displayed a callous disregard for her and then lied, painting a false picture of what had happened, and did not have the benefit of a guilty plea.

[2014] EWCA Crim 402

The court upheld a conviction for manslaughter and two counts of unlawful wounding where the offender had deliberately driven into another car, resulting in the death of the driver and injury to the two passengers. Evidence given at the trial by an accident and collision investigator had not been inadmissible, and fresh evidence, which the offender claimed could undermine that evidence, did not satisfy the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 s.23(2)(b).

[2013] EWCA Crim 2397

An indeterminate sentence was replaced by hospital orders under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983 s.37 and s.41 where a young ofender had killed his mother with a kitchen knife while suffering from a mental disorder. He would not continue to pose a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public occasioned by the commisssion of serious offences once his mental disorder had been cured or substantially alleviated so as to enable him to be discharged from such orders.

[2013] EWCA Crim 2332

Following the amendment of the Homicide Act 1957 s.2 by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, it remained the case that medical evidence was a practical necessity if a defence of diminished responsibility was to succeed.

[2013] EWCA Crim 2498

Failure to give a defendant an opportunity to be heard before sentence was a serious breach of procedural fairness requiring the sentence to be quashed.

[2013] UKPC 32

The court refused to apply the principle of “lurking doubt” to overturn convictions for manslaughter and murder and reiterated that the application of the principle was limited to the most exceptional circumstances.

[2013] EWCA Crim 1421

A sentence of two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment was appropriate in the case of a doctor who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter after failing to take appropriate action in respect of a patient who was displaying the symptoms of a life-threatening diabetic condition.

[2013] EWCA Crim 1056

The jury’s verdicts giving rise to three offenders’ respective convictions for causing grievous bodily harm with intent, murder and manslaughter, arising out of an assault on a victim who was placed in a car which was set on fire, were not inconsistent so as to render the convictions unsafe. The different verdicts represented an assessment of the evidence by the jury in the different cases.

[2013] EWCA Crim 673

A judge had been right to conclude that a young offender could not be fairly re-tried for murder and to stay further proceedings on that issue as an abuse of process where the young offender had been convicted of the alternative charge of manslaughter and the jury had been unable to reach a verdict on murder.

[2013] EWCA Crim 356

In upholding three convictions for murder, the court considered the application of the loss of control defence in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s.54 and s.55 in the context of violence offered to or feared by a defendant. The qualifying trigger necessary for that defence under s.54(1)(b), elaborated by s.55(6)(a) and s.55(6)(b), was not available to a defendant who had deliberately sought to provide himself with an excuse to use violence by inciting, or encouraging or manufacturing a situation for that purpose.

[2013] EWCA Crim 322

A sentence of four years’ imprisonment was appropriate in the case of the appellant, who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence after being involved in the fatal administration of heroin to a fellow drug user.

[2013] EWCA Crim 358

A judge had not erred in failing to given an offender credit for an offer to plead guilty to manslaughter on the ground of loss of control when charged with murder, where no plea had been entered following the prosecution’s rejection of the offer and the offender had maintained his defence of self-defence. However, the eight-year sentence should have been discounted by 12 months for the eventual accepted guilty plea to manslaughter after an aborted first trial, as it meant that a second trial was not required.

[2013] EWCA Crim 9