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Attorney General for Jersey v Holley [2005] 3 WLR 29 Privy Council

A landmark case where the Privy Council declared that they were announcing the law applicable not only to Jersey but also to England and Wales. (Privy Council decisions are not generally considered binding in English law but of mere persuasive authority). The Judicial Committee consisted of nine members of the House of Lords.

Facts:

The defendant had a stormy relationship with the deceased. They were both alcoholics and he had a history of violence towards her for which he had spent time in prison. On his release from prison she indicated that she did not want to continue the relationship. However, they continued to live together having constant rows. On the day in question they had both been to the pub in the afternoon. He returned early because of an argument. She returned in the evening and announced that she had had sex with another man. He hacked her to death with an axe. At his trial he raised the defence of provocation. He wished to rely on his alcoholism, depression and other personality traits. The jury convicted him of murder. The defendant appealed to the Court of Appeal who quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial. He was again convicted at the retrial and again appealed. His conviction was again quashed and a manslaughter conviction was substituted. The Attorney General sought leave to appeal arguing the decision in Smith (Morgan) was wrong and should not apply in Jersey.

Held: 6:3 Decision (Lords Carswell, Bingham and Hoffman dissenting)


The appeal was allowed.

The law in Jersey and England & Wales is the same on this issue. The decision in Smith (Morgan) allowing mental characteristics to be attributed to the reasonable man in assessing the standard of self-control expected of the defendant is no longer good law.
 
Back to lecture outline on the defence of provocation in criminal law
 
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