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DPP v Camplin [1978] AC 705 House of Lords

The appellant, a 15 year old boy, killed a middle aged man by hitting him over the head with a chapati pan. At his murder trial the defendant raised the defence of provocation stating that the deceased had raped him and then laughed at him at which point he lost his control and hit him. The trial judge directed the jury on provocation that they should consider whether a reasonable adult would have done as the defendant did and told them that they should not take acount of the defendant's actual age. The jury convicted him of murder and the defendant appealed contending the judge was wrong to direct the jury that age was irrelevant.


The appeal was allowed. The jury should be allowed to consider the age of the defendant.

Lord Diplock:

"In my opinion a proper direction to a jury on the question left to their exclusive determination by section 3 of the Homicide Act 1957 would be on the following lines. The judge should state what the question is using the very terms of the section. He should then explain to them that the reasonableman referred to in the question is a person having the power of self-control to be expected of an ordinary person of the sex and age of the accused, but in other respects sharing such of the accused's characteristics as they think would affect the gravity of the provocation to him ; and that the question is not merely whether such a person would in like circumstances be provoked to lose his self-control but also would react to the provocation as the accused