R v Fenton

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Judgment Date01 July 1975
Judgment citation (vLex)[1975] EWCA Crim J0701-3
Date01 July 1975
Docket NumberNo. 2767/C/74

[1975] EWCA Crim J0701-3



Royal Courts of Justice


The Lord Chief Justice of England (Lord Widgery)

Mr. Justice Milmo


Mr. Justice Wien

No. 2767/C/74

Martin Charles Fenton

MR. M. WATERS, Q.C. and MR. A. RAWLEY appeared on behalf of the Appellant.

SIR PETER RAWLINSON, Q.C. and MR. I. KENNEDY, Q.C. appeared on behalf of the Crown.


On the 6th May of last year in the Crown Court at Exeter this Appellant pleaded not guilty to an indictment containing four separate counts of murder: that is to say allegations that he had murdered four separate people. He was convicted of murder on each of those four counts. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.


He now appeals to this Court against his conviction by leave of the single Judge.


He is now 46 years of age and has led a somewhat turbulent life. One has to look a little into his background because it is relevant to the arguments which were put forward at the trial. In particular, in recent years since 1971 he has had a contact with a gentleman called Tsigirides, who is the owner of the Carlton Casino Club in Torquay, and this association between the Appellant and Tsigirides has given rise to many disputes and violence on more than one occasion. As recently as June 1973 the Appellant was expelled from the club on the instructions of Tsigirides for drunken and wild behaviour. There were other incidents of bad blood between them arising out of loans of money and the like.


The Appellant had served in the army at the age of 17. He did well enough as a soldier, except that he got himself into trouble for dishonesty and was eventually discharged on that account.


In 1969, after he had left the army, he had some success in business, but in May of 1969 he was admitted to hospital with depression. He says he has been the subject of blackmail. He has tried to commit suicide on more than one occasion. He has been in hospital for mental treatment and, as I have said, his life has been full of incident, much of it not of a satisfactory or welcome kind.


However there was a period in the late 1960's and early 1970's when his business began to prosper and he led a very much more stable life, but even then when he was at his best, as it were, there were some strange incidents reported about him. He had occasion to overtake a car on the inside and, annoyed because the driver would not allow him to do so, he got out of his car, seized the driver's head and repeatedly banged it against the car which the other man was driving: indications of his instability, his violent temper and his ability to lose control very easily.


By July of 1973 things between the Appellant and Tsigirides seem to have been getting rather worse. There was an occasion between them when knives were used, each blaming the other for the occasion.


Eventually one comes to the day of the incident in which these four killings took place, which was the 21st December, 1973. That was the last working day before Christmas, the day when office parties are held and things of that kind, and the Appellant's office was no exception. He started the day by going to an optician to have some new glasses, and the optician described his behaviour as "odd" and sought to get him "off the premises" as quickly as possible. He then repaired to his office where he drank half a bottle of rum with his two secretaries, he consuming most of it and the secretaries a minor portion. By this time not surprisingly his mood had improved. He was described as being "jolly". Later on that same evening he said he shared something over a bottle of whisky with a business acquaintance, so that by 11 o'clock or thereabouts he had obviously had a great deal to drink.


At about 11 o'clock he was driving his motor car in Torquay when he attracted the attention of the police, and a police officer followed his car in a police 'panda' car. Eventually the Appellant's car was driven into a cul-de-sac with the police car behind and no means of escape, and the Appellant then, with virtually no preliminaries, drew a revolver and shot and killed the policeman who had been driving the panda car.


He then left, driving the police car because he could not get his own car out, and he went to a hotel where he lived. He spent about twenty minutes there and left the hotel in a van which was his own and repaired to the Casino Club where Tsigirides was likely to...

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14 cases
  • R v Dietschmann (Anthony)
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 27 February 2003
    ...rule that drink does not give rise to an abnormality of mind due to inherent causes was authoritatively established in Fenton (1975) 61 Cr App R 261 and confirmed in Gittens [1984] QB 698. In line with those authorities, Tandy [1989] 1 All ER 267 established that drink is only capable of......
  • R v Gittens
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 12 June 1984
    ...Where alcohol or drugs are factors to be considered by the jury, the best approach is that adopted by the Judge and approved by this Court in Fenton (1975) 61 Cr. App. R. 261. The jury should be directed to disregard what, in their view, the effect of the alcohol or drugs upon the defendant......
  • Stephen andrew Dowds v The Queen
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 22 February 2012
    ...of a partial defence of diminished responsibility rather than any revision of the law of insanity. 10 It was established in 1975 in R v Fenton (1975) 61 Cr App R 261 that the effect on the mind of voluntary intoxication could not give rise to diminished responsibility. The defendant, who ha......
  • R v Clive Wood
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 2 April 2009
    ...Lords. 19 Mr Roger Smith QC submitted that the directions were unimpeachable and entirely consistent with well established authority, such as Fenton [1975] 61 CAR 261 and Tandy [1988] 87 CAR 45. He suggested that, contrary to Mr Bishop's submissions, these authorities were reinforced by Die......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Recognising Acute Intoxication as Diminished Responsibility? A Comparative Analysis
    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The Nbr. 76-1, February 2012
    • 1 February 2012
    ...R vInseal [1992] Crim LR 35, CA;R v Atkinson [1985] Crim LR 314, CA; R v Gittens [1984] QB 698, (1984) 79 CrApp R 272, CA; R v Fenton (1975) 61 Cr App R 261, CA.85 The direction effectively mirrored the earlier direction provided in the heavilycriticised case of R v Tandy [1989] 1 WLR 35, (......
  • Alcoholism and Criminal Liability
    • United Kingdom
    • The Modern Law Review Nbr. 64-5, September 2001
    • 1 September 2001
    ...Crim LR 857; 98 Cr App Rep 325.71 (1988) 87 Cr App R 45. Approved in RvSanderson ibid;RvEgan [1992] 6 All ER 470. See alsoFenton (1975) 61 Cr App R 261.72 See n 10 above.September 2001] Alcoholism and Criminal LiabilityßThe Modern Law Review Limited 2001 and where they commence drinking.73 ......
  • Diminished Responsibility and Acute Intoxication: Raising the Bar?
    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The Nbr. 76-3, June 2012
    • 1 June 2012
    ...Intoxication: Raising the Bar? diminished responsibility. This is in line with the position prior to the2009 Act reforms (R v Fenton (1975) 61 Cr App R 261; R v Dietschmann[2003] UKHL 10; R v Wood [2008] EWCA 1305; R v Stewart [2009]EWCA Crim 593). The defendant’s argument is counter to the......

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