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R v Richens [1993] 4 All ER 877

At the age of 17, the appellant killed a man who had raped his girlfriend. The deceased had taunted him about the rape saying that his girlfriend wanted to have sexual intercourse and enjoyed it. At which point the appellant stabbed him. At his trial the defendant raised the defence of provocation. The trial judge directed the jury on loss of control as follows:

"As to the first question, whether the defendant lost his self-control, what you have to look at is whether there was a complete loss of control. The law obviously does not excuse someone who may kill someone because he has lost his temper. All of us lose our tempers, I suspect, quite frequently. It is not dealing with that sort of loss of control at all. It is dealing with a complete loss of control, to the extent where you really do not know what you are doing."

The jury convicted him of murder and the defendant appealed.


Appeal was allowed. The murder conviction was quashed and substituted with manslaughter. The direction was a mis-direction. There was no requirement of a complete loss of control.
Back to lecture outline on the defence of provocation in criminal law