Sentencing for murder has changed vastly in the last century. In 1955, when Ruth Ellis was being tried for murder, the maximum penalty was mandatory capital punishment. However, jury could make a recommendation of mercy but the Home Secretary could discount this. In contrast to current law, murder carries a penalty of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after a minimum term at the discretion of the sentencing judge.
Murder is one of two types of crimes, conduct and result crimes. In order to determine what needs to be proved to convict a person of murder, it needs to be placed in either one of these crimes; due to the fact that both have different elements of actus reus. A conduct crimes is committed when the act (or conduct) of a person is prohibited by law. For example, if a person was to enter a shop, take in his possession an item and walks out the door without paying for that item, then the act of walking out of the shop is where the crime was committed. A result crime is committed when the result of an act is an offence. For example, a person throws a stone in a public place...
... middle of paper ...
... sufficient to constitute provocation’. This is the reason Ellis failed in her defence.
Since this case a new defence of ‘loss of control’ has replaced the provocation defence. A person charged with murder may be convicted on manslaughter if there exists a loss of control from a qualifiying trigger and
Sir Edward Coke, Institutes of the laws of England, (E. & R. Brooke, 1797)
R v Malcherek and Steel  2 All ER
Bratty v A-G for NI  AC 386, at p. 409
Greener v DPP  160 JP 265
R v Pittwood  19 TLR 37
R v Dytham  QB 722
Stone v Dobinson  QB 354
R v Pagett  76 Cr App R 279
R v Dalloway  2 Cox 273
R v Williams  1 WLR 588
Michael Allen, Textbook on Criminal Law (11th ed, p.56, OUP, 2011)
Homicide Act 1957, S.3
Mancini v DPP  AC 1 at 8-9
Holmes v DPP  AC 588 at 598
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