Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED April 11, 2003

Public interest required a retrial where there was the serious offence of murder, even though there had been a substantial lapse of time since the offence: it was still possible for the retrial to be fair.Following a successful appeal to the House of Lords on 27 February 2003 (see R v Anthony Dietschmann (2003) UKHL 10) the House of Lords remitted the case to the Court of Appeal to decide whether to substitute the conviction for murder for a conviction for manslaughter due to diminished responsibility or to order a retrial. In 1999 the defendant ('D') killed his victim by punching him and kicking him on the head in a savage attack. At the time of the killing, D was heavily intoxicated and he was also suffering from a mental abnormality described as an adjustment disorder which was a depressed grief reaction to the death of his aunt. At his trial for murder D relied on a defence of diminished responsibility under s.2(1) Homicide Act 1957.HELD: Public interest required a retrial as this was a serious offence of murder. A substantial amount of time had lapsed since the offence. However, in all the circumstances a retrial could be fair. A jury ought to hear the evidence and decide the matter. The failing was a failing of the law and guidance had now been given by the House of Lords so a trial judge would appreciate that the specified direction would be required. A new jury needed to decide if, on hearing that specified direction, D should still be convicted of murder.Appeal allowed. Conviction quashed and retrial ordered.