R v Blackman [2017]

R v Blackman [2017]

In R v Blackman [2017] EWCA Crim 190, a soldier convicted of the murder of an insurgent appealed, asserting that evidence related to his adjustment disorder had not been taken into consideration. The Court Martial Appeal Court allowed the appeal and substituted the conviction for manslaughter.

The judgment emphasised the rarity of withdrawing a murder charge from the jury based on uncontested evidence for diminished responsibility, even when the evidence is compelling. The court acknowledged that it would be an uncommon scenario for a judge to intervene in this manner when the prosecution does not accept that the evidence supports the defence of diminished responsibility.

Despite the persuasive nature of the medical evidence in this case, the court concluded that it did not fall within the category of rare cases where a murder charge should be withdrawn from the jury. The judgment highlighted the importance of allowing the jury to consider such matters, particularly when the prosecution contests the applicability of diminished responsibility.

The Court Martial Appeal Court, in allowing the appeal, substituted the conviction for manslaughter. To make this determination, the court considered whether the defence for diminished responsibility could be established on a balance of probabilities, and in this instance, the court concluded in the affirmative.

This case underscores the general principle that withdrawing a murder charge from the jury based on uncontested evidence for diminished responsibility is an infrequent occurrence, highlighting the need for careful consideration and adherence to legal standards in such cases.
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