Women who kill their partners after years of physical or emotional
abuse could have their sentence reduced under new plans to overhaul
the law on murder.
The Law Commission proposes to reduce automatic murder sentences to
manslaughter for women who do not kill their partners in a
spontaneous act. Currently, only those that kill spontaneously can
receive the lesser sentence.
In its report to ministers, the commission calls the law of
provocation under the Homicide Act 1957 “unsatisfactory and beyond
cure by judicial reform”.
It recommends: “Unlawful homicide that would otherwise be murder
should instead be manslaughter if the defendant acted in response
to gross provocation, fear of serious violence towards the
defendant or a combination of both.”
However, the commission said pleas for partial defence should not
be used as an excuse to use violence or if the defendant acted in a
premeditated desire for revenge.
The move has been welcomed by domestic violence campaign group
Women’s Aid and Refuge.