R v Asmelash [2013]

R v Asmelash [2013] 1 Cr App R 33 revolved around the relationship between voluntary intoxication and the defence of loss of control under Section 54(c) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

The defendant was insulted and taunted by the victim while the defendant was drunk. Subsequently, the defendant stabbed the victim to death. During the trial, it was argued that the judge's direction to the jury, which excluded evidence of intoxication in relation to the loss of control defence, was incorrect.

The appeal was dismissed, and the judge's direction was deemed correct. Lord Judge CJ clarified that the defence of loss of control should be approached without reference to the defendant's voluntary intoxication. According to the judgment, the circumstances in Section 54(c) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 do not include voluntary intoxication as a relevant factor.

Lord Judge CJ further emphasised that, similar to the provocation defence, judicial directions should be framed with reference to a reasonably sober person. Voluntary intoxication, in this context, is not considered as part of the circumstances relevant to the loss of control defence.

However, the judgment also acknowledged that different considerations might arise if a defendant had a severe problem with alcohol or drugs and was mercilessly taunted about that condition to the extent that it constituted a qualifying trigger. In such a case, the alcohol or drug problem could potentially form part of the circumstances for consideration in the loss of control defence.

This case illustrates the court's position that, in general, voluntary intoxication should not be factored into the loss of control defence unless it is directly related to the qualifying triggers specified in the legislation.
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