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R v James & Karimi [2006] 2 WLR 887 Court of Appeal


James

James killed his wife in 1979. He stabbed, punched and suffocated her. The couple had been separated for 5 months and she had formed a new relationship with another man. Four psychiatric reports were received by the court and the prosecution indicated that they were willing to accept a manslaughter verdict based on diminished responsibility. James did not want to use that defence and pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter on grounds of provocation. At the time of trial the law on provocation was as set out in R v Camplin ie only certain factors such as age could be taken into account. The psychiatric reports were not therefore put before the jury. Following the decision in Smith (Morgan), allowing mental characteristics to be taken into account, the defendant applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for referral to the Court of Appeal. The CCRC referred the case to the CA, however, before the hearing of the appeal, the Privy Council decision in A-G for Jersey v Holley for was announced.

Karimi

Karimi, a Communist Freedom Fighter in Kurdistan came to England with his wife. His wife formed a relationship with another man, Kabadi, who was a friend of Karimi and also a freedom fighter. Kabadi came at Karimi with a knife and shouted ‘Besharif’ an insulting phrase meaning you have no honour. Karimi then disarmed him and stabbed him to death with the knife in a frenzied attack. The judge gave a direction based on Holley and the jury convicted. The defendant appealed on the grounds that this was a mis-direction and the judge should have used the direction in R v Smith (Morgan).


Held:

Both appeals were dismissed. Convictions were upheld.

The court drew a distinction between the gravity of provocation and the standard of self control:

Gravity of provocation

Where the provocation consists of words (eg taunts or insults) about a particular characteristic of the accused, the jury may take into account the particular characteristic in assessing the gravity of the provocation.

Standard of self- control.

The court may not take into account the defendant’s particular characteristics of the defendant (other than age or gender) in assessing the standard of self control expected of a reasonable man.

Back to lecture outline relating to the defence of provocation