Defendant accused of murder – Crown accept guilty plea to manslaughter by reason of loss of control: sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment
The defendant was accused of murdering his brother-in-law by stabbing him in the back twice (and also section 18 GBH in respect of his wife, by stabbing her through the hand). The case was meticulously prepared for trial – a number of expert witnesses were engaged by the defence to counter the Crown’s case that the defendant had first stabbed his wife through her hand and then committed murder by stabbing the brother-in-law from behind in his back. The defence were able to establish that all three stab wounds may have been caused by just two stabbing motions and when these injuries were inflicted the defendant may have been stood facing his brother-in-law, or to his side, as opposed to being stood directly behind him. Further, there was a significant dispute about the extent of the defendant’s intoxication which the defence were able to significantly undermine.
The result of these important inroads was that shortly before trial the Crown accepted a guilty plea to manslaughter by reason of loss of control (and section 18) on a limited basis, namely, that the defendant was attacked first by his brother-in-law resulting in a loss of control (which was attributable to his genuine fear of serious violence) and the use by the defendant of a knife. Taking into account the basis of plea, the sentencing judge concluded that this case involved substantial provocation and therefore medium culpability (as opposed to higher culpability as advanced by the Crown) on the Sentencing Council Guidelines. The defendant was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment meaning that he will spend, taking into account time served, approximately a further 5 years 3 months in custody.