On appeal from [2014] EWCA Crim 748

This appeal considered whether, when a defendant pleads not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminshed responsibility, the judge must direct the jury as to the meaning of “substantial” for the purposes of the phase “substantially impaired” in the Homicide Act 1957, s 2(1)(b). The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the defendant’s appeal. Lord Hughes, giving the judgment of the Court, reviewed the authorities, emphasising that the question of substantial impairment required consideration of whether there had been a serious degree of impairment, and such degree was a matter for the jury. There was usually no need to direct the jury as to the meaning of ordinary words, and therefore here, in the absence of any query from the jury, the judge did not err in not directing them as to the meaning of “substantial”.

For judgment, please download: [2016] UKSC 61
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website