Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 7, 2003

In all the circumstances, a sentence of six years for manslaughter was manifestly excessive and did not reflect the level of provocation.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against a sentence of six years' imprisonment imposed at Maidstone Crown Court on 20 January 2003 following conviction for manslaughter. The defendant ('B') was charged with murder and whilst not specifically stated, it was likely the jury found she had been provoked. B was divorced and lived with her daughter. She had had a number of relationships since her divorce, characterised by violence. B was having a relationship with the victim ('V') and they both drank heavily, they did not live together but V often stayed with B. On one occasion both parties had been drinking heavily when a dispute arose. V attacked B and tried to throw her under a vehicle. B's daughter tried to call the police from a public phone booth and V took the phone and hit her over the head with it. Some weeks later both parties had been drinking separately. B was fearful that if V came to her house there would be an altercation so she phoned V several times telling him not to come round. V did go to B's home and she let him in fearing he would cause a disturbance. He punched her and she fell, when she got up he hit her again and threatened to kill her. B managed to get past him and V lost his balance falling onto the settee. B picked up a knife and stabbed him twice. She immediately realised what she had done and called an ambulance and tried to help V until it arrived. B appealed sentence on the grounds that the judge did not give sufficient weight to the psychiatric evidence showing B was an alcoholic with a personality disorder suffering from clinical depression, or to the history of her relationship including the violence instigated by V.HELD: (1) The court had the benefit of prison reports which showed that B had benefited from counselling and was co-operative. None of the authorities referred to by B were guideline cases. The court had to look at each case on its own facts where sentence was for manslaughter on the grounds of provocation. In the present case a sentence of six years did not adequately reflect the nature of the provocation. A sentence of three-and-a-half years would be substituted.Appeal allowed.