More than Merely More than Minimal: The Meaning of the Term ‘Substantial’ in the Context of Diminished Responsibility: R v Golds [2014] EWCA Crim 748

Date01 October 2014
AuthorTony Storey,Natalie Wortley
Publication Date01 October 2014
SubjectCourt of Appeal
Court of Appeal
More than Merely More than Minimal: The Meaning of
the Term ‘Substantial’ in the Context of
Diminished Responsibility
Keywords Murder; Manslaughter; Diminished responsibility; Bad
character; Important explanatory evidence; Propensity
On 11 June 2013, G killed his partner, CP. G was charged with murder and
pleaded diminished responsibility. The defence called three medical
experts, each of whom testif‌ied that, in their opinion, the elements of the
partial defence were satisf‌ied. The jury nevertheless convicted G of murder.
G appealed against that conviction.
On the day of the killing, CP and G attended a family barbecue. CP had
been drinking. She had a mark on her face and she told a number of
witnesses that G had been hitting her. At the party G and CP argued
because G wanted to leave, but CP wanted to stay. They returned home
separately and the argument continued. A neighbour heard the commotion
and saw G grab CP and slap her across the face.
CP’s 13-year-old son, R, gave evidence that CP wanted G to leave. R
and his brother, A, were temporarily locked in their bedroom. There was
then a further argument about a bank card, and G went to the kitchen and
returned with a knife. R took the knife from G, but G produced a second
knife and began to attack CP with it. R and A left the house to get help.
The police arrived to f‌ind CP’s body in the bedroom. G was lying on the
f‌loor with his hand over his face. His thumb had been sliced in two. When
arrested, G was extremely violent and aggressive. He admitted killing CP,
but said that CP was ‘evil’ adding: ‘[t]he demon’s gone. I’ve killed her. The
devil’s gone. She had Satan in her eyes’ (at [10]). A post-mortem
examination revealed that G had inf‌licted 22 separate knife wounds upon
CP. The main cause of death was the tearing of a blood vessel in her liver.
In interview, G said that CP had taken the knife from him and cut his
hand. He recalled taking the knife from her. He said that they had been
hurting each other, but he could not remember much more.
At trial, a number of witnesses gave evidence for the prosecution about
what had happened at the barbecue. R and A gave evidence about events
at the house leading up to the fatal attack. The prosecution also applied to
adduce bad character evidence from CP’s adult daughter, SA. SA claimed
that on a previous occasion she had spoken to G and he had admitted
slapping CP ‘a few times’ (at [15]). The judge ruled that SA’s evidence was
important explanatory evidence and was admissible under s. 101(1)(c) of
The defence called evidence from three expert witnesses as to G’s
mental state at the time of the killing. G had a history of mental disorder,
having been diagnosed with psychosis and depression. He had stopped
The Journal of Criminal Law (2014) 78 JCL 373–378

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