Objective Test. -This test asks the question “Would a reasonable man have lost his self-control in the circumstances?” -This test comes from the case Bedder (1954) Where the defendant who suffered from a case of impotence, was both mentally and physically abused by a prostitute.
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-This test asks the question “Would a reasonable man have lost his self-control in the circumstances?”
-This test comes from the case Bedder (1954) Where the defendant who suffered from a case of impotence, was both mentally and physically abused by a prostitute.
-In that case it was asked that the jury consider the effect of mockery on a reasonable (that is non-impotent) man
-Before passing the Homicide Act in 1957 the courts had ruled that the reasonable man had to be an adult this was changed in the cased of Camplin (1978) where it was considered a reasonable man encompassed all people that had “power of self-control to be expected of a normal person” even if they were of any age or gender.
-The Objective Test may be summarised into a two-part test:
-Would a reasonable man have lost his self control in the circumstance?
-Would the reasonable man, sharing the characteristics of the accused have been provoked and react to the provocation as the accused did?
-It was in the case of Thornton that the defendant killed her husband, this was an attack delayed after an abusive incident. It was considered that a ‘Last Straw’ situation could trigger a final loss of self-control.
-This case is extremely similar to R v Long the only difference is that the defendant is male as opposed to female, but in this case the abuse was not just from one incident but from multiple abusive incidents both mental and physical that spanned 30 years, so if in the case of Thornton (1996) the defendant received a reduced sentence under provocation due to a ‘last straw’ trigger causing a sudden and final loss of control, then in the case of R v Long the existence of provocation is even stronger as the abuse occurred over a much longer period of time, so it is more likely therefore that a reasonable person would have snapped due to abuse.
-If we use the two-part test:
A) Would a reasonable man have lost his self control in the circumstance?
Yes it was likely a reasonable man would have lost there self-control in the circumstance after 30 years of repeated abuse, this could also be considered a ‘last straw’ situation causing a final loss of self-control much like in Thornton (1996)
B) Would the reasonable man, sharing the characteristics of the accused have been provoked and react to the provocation as the accused did?
Yes the a reasonable man sharing the characteristics would have been provoked, as Mr. Long had no known special conditions or ailments therefore he in retrospect was “normal” and as we can see from prolonged abuse it is highly likely a reasonable person would have been provoked and snapped just as he did.
Power of self-control:
-In Thornton (1996), referred to earlier, the Court of Appeal stated that the ‘battered wife syndrome
might be taken into account when assessing the likelihood of a person being easily provoked.
-The question is if men are considered part of “Battered Women’s Syndrome”, as in the case the husband was abused much like in Thornton, still the abuse
occurred over a much longer time therefore more likely that the defendant would lose self-control, even if BWS does not apply the defendant could still prove
There was ‘last straw’ situation.
-It was not certain however, how far other conditions, such as injuries causing shortness of temper, or other mental abnormalities could be taken into account,
These conditions in any case would be more relevant in the defence of diminished responsibility. Two cases illustrate some what different approaches.
Luc Theit Thuan (1996):
-Head injury resulting in reduced power of self-control could not be taken into consideration in the objective test. The court ruled that any mental infirmity
which reduced self-control could not be ascribed to the ordinary person in the objective test.
Smith (Morgan) (2000) :
-Victim was killed in an argument over stolen tools, clinical depression may reduce power of self-control, the judges disapproved the finding in Luc Theit
-In this case a drunken defendant killed his girlfriend with an axe, the judges disapproved the decision in Smith (Morgan) (2000) that depression would be
ascribed to the ordinary person in the objective test, and instead reaffirmed the case of Luc Theit Thuan (1996) that no mental infirmity which reduced power of
self-control could be ascribed to the reasonable person in the objective test.
-The majority verdict would consider the objective test as ‘whether the provocation was enough to make a reasonable man do as he did’ and that intoxication and mental disorder should not be taken into account and are best left to diminished responsibility.
The Objective Test can now be summarised as:
-Was the provocation enough to make a reasonable man behave in the same way as the defendant?
-Would a person of the same age and sex as the defendant, but with ordinary powers of self control, have reacted in the same way to the provocation?
-Individual peculiarities such as mental abnormality or intoxication should not be taken into account.
If we take this into account, then a reasonable would likely act in the same way as the defendant especially after 30 years of abuse, and a person of the same
age with normal powers of self-control act in the same way, yes, especially so considering it would seem a person with normal powers of self-control would
snap under less abuse, and in the case the defendant had no mental abnormalities or wasn’t intoxicated so this applies.