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R v Doughty (1986) 83 Cr App R 319 Court of Appeal

The appellant killed his 17 day old baby son. His wife had had a caesarean and was told to take things easy so the appellant was looking after his wife and the baby in addition to carrying out all the general house hold matters. On the night of the killing the baby was constantly crying. The appellant used his best efforts to keep the baby quiet to no avail. He then covered the baby's mouth to dampen the sound. He then stated that due to his excessive tiredness and the constant noise of the baby he lost his control and pressed down harder than he meant to at the time he was kneeling on the baby's head. The trial judge did not allow the jury to consider the defence of provocation stating that provocation can not be founded on the perfectly natural episodes of a baby's crying. The defendant appealed.


The baby's crying could amount to a provocative act within the meaning of s.3 of the Homicide Act 1957. The appellant's murder conviction was substituted for manslaughter and his life sentence reduced to 5 years.
Back to lecture outline on the defence of provocation or loss of control