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R v Golds [2014] 4 All ER 64;

[2015] WLR 1030; [2014] EWCA Crim 748; [2014] 2 Cr App R 17; [2014] Crim LR 744

MURDER, MANSLAUGHTER, DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY, EVIDENCE,

SUBSTANTIAL IMPAIRMENT

Facts

Golds admitted to killing his partner and prior to the killing he had sexually assaulted her. The question for the jury was whether he was guilty of murder or manslaughter by virtue of diminished responsibility under s. 2(1) Homicide Act 1957. The three medical experts argued that the conditions for diminished responsibility were satisfied. The judge allowed evidence to be admitted under s. 101(c) Criminal Justice Act 2003. Golds refused to give evidence as he argued that he was not in a fit state to do so. The judge directed the jury not to draw any adverse interference by the refusal and did not permit them to hear the opinion of the medical experts on Golds current mental state. The jury convicted the defendant of murder and he appealed the decision.

Issues

(1) Is the judge entitled not to permit the jury to hear evidence of the current mental state of the defendant?

(2) What is the meaning of ‘substantially impaired’ under s. 2(1)(b) Homicide Act 1957?

Held

(1) The judge is entitled to refuse to the jury to hear evidence of the current mental state of the defendant as it would not materially assist them in taking a decision.

(2) Substantial impairment to the defendant’s ability to take responsibility in the context of diminished responsibility under s. 2(1)(b) Homicide Act 1957 cannot be established simply by virtue of impairment being more than trivial or minimal. The judges had to refuse to provide a further explanation of the term ‘substantial’ on the basis that its meaning is obvious. Following  R v Simcox, Times, February 25, 1964, if asked for further help, the judges have to direct the jury that it is possible to find that an impairment had a modest impact that was more than minimal or trivial, but cannot be described as substantial.

The appeal was dismissed.


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