Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED August 14, 2003

A sentence of nine years' imprisonment was not manifestly excessive for the manslaughter of a three-and-a-half month old baby.Appeal against sentence with leave of the single judge. On 6 December 2001 at Wolverhampton Crown Court the appellant ('B') was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to nine years' imprisonment. The victim ('V') was B's three-and-a-half month old son. V's mother woke up at some time during the night of 10/11 August 2001 to find B standing by the bed holding V, saying that he was not breathing. Despite resuscitation attempts by B, the mother and the emergency services, V was pronounced dead. The post-mortem revealed that death was caused by violent shaking and a substantial blow to the head the equivalent of a six-foot fall. On arrest, B admitted shaking V because he was frustrated by his crying. At trial, B said that he had made the alleged admission in an attempt to protect V's mother who he blamed for the death. In sentencing B, the judge said that he took the view that the extent and degree of provocation was low and that the violence to V was severe. B argued that the judge fell into error by assessing the level of provocation as low and should have taken into account the principles set out in R v (1) Darren Anthony Suratan (Attorney-General's Reference No.74 OF 2002) (2) Leslie Humes (Attorney-General's Reference No.95 OF 2002) (3) Mark Paul Wilkinson (Attorney-General's Reference No.118 OF 2002) (2002) EWCA Crim 2982.HELD: (1) The judge had been saying that in the spectrum of provocation that could justify a jury reducing an offence from murder to manslaughter, the present case was at the lower end of the spectrum. This court could see why he had come to the conclusion. (2) The sentence was not manifestly excessive.Appeal dismissed.