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News | Tue 14th Jun, 2016
Tom Little, being led by David Perry QC, is appearing today for the Prosecution in front of a seven justice constitution of the Supreme Court. The appellant was convicted of murdering his partner and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Before trial, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility but the plea was not accepted by the prosecution. The appellant had a history of mental illness and at trial two forensic psychiatrists and one forensic psychologist were called by the defence to give evidence in support of the partial defence of diminished responsibility.
The judge directed the jury on the partial defence of diminished responsibility, but not on the meaning of the word “substantial” in the statute. The jury convicted the appellant of murder. The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal. The Supreme Court will consider (a) what the word substantial means in this context and (b) whether a Judge should direct the jury on that meaning. Given the word ‘substantial’ features in similar statutory provisions in many common law jurisdictions this case will have wide ramifications across the world.