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Holmes v. Director of Public Prosecutions

House of Lords
31 Crim. App. R 123 (1946)


Holmes (defendant) got into an altercation with his wife after a night out, which began when someone winked at her. Holmes had previously been suspicious of his wife in regards to other men and had heard stories about it as well. The fight reached a violent point when Holmes’s wife told him she had been unfaithful to him and that she had reason to believe he had been untrue to her as well. At trial, Holmes stated that at that point, he lost his temper and hit his wife in the head with a hammer. Holmes stated that because she was suffering, he strangled her until she stopped breathing. During cross-examination, when asked if he intended to kill her when he had his hands on her neck, Holmes responded “yes.” In charging the jury, the trial judge instructed that, based on the evidence and the law, a conviction for manslaughter may not be considered and that Holmes’s wife’s statement to him that she had been unfaithful was not sufficient provocation to justify a conviction of manslaughter instead of murder. Holmes was subsequently convicted of murder. The court of appeal affirmed that conviction, and Holmes again appealed to the House of Lords.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Simon, J.)

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