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R v Ahluwalia (1993) 96 Cr App R 133 Court of Appeal

The appellant poured petrol and caustic soda on to her sleeping husband and then set fire to him. He died six days later from his injuries. The couple had an arranged marriage and the husband had been violent and abusive throughout the marriage. He was also having an affair. On the night of the killing he had threatened to hit her with an iron and told her that he would beat her the next day if she did not provide him with money. At her trial she admitted killing her husband but raised the defence of provocation however, the jury convicted her of murder. She appealed on the grounds that the judge's direction to the jury relating to provocation was wrong and she also raised the defence of diminished responsibility.


The judge's direction on provocation was correct. The Duffy direction was good law and the judge had directed the jury on the issue of the abuse suffered by the appellant and thus the jury would have considered the affect of this in reaching their verdict. The appeal on the grounds of provocation was therefore unsuccessful.

However, the appeal was allowed on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The Court did, however, stress that it was exceptional that fresh evidence would be allowed.

Lord Taylor CJ:

"Ordinarily, of course, any available defences should be advanced at trial. Accordingly, if medical evidence is available to support a plea of diminished responsibility, it should be adduced at the trial. It cannot be too strongly emphasised that this court would require much persuasion to allow such a defence to be raised for the first time here if the option had been exercised at the trial not to pursue it. Otherwise, as must be clear, defendants might be encouraged to run one defence at trial in the belief that if it fails, this court would allow a different defence to be raised and give the defendant, in effect, two opportunities to run different defences. Nothing could be further from the truth. Likewise, if there is no evidence to support diminished responsibility at the time of the trial, this court would view any wholly retrospective medical evidence obtained long after the trial with considerable scepticism."

Back to lecture outline on Diminished Responsibility

Back to lecture outline on provocation or loss of control