The drive to relieve women of responsibility for killing their partners is gathering momentum, predictably. A piece in today’s Times:
A woman who is trying to overturn her conviction for murdering her boyfriend during a “toxic relationship” is being supported by Sally Challen, who had her conviction for murdering her abusive husband quashed earlier this year.
Emma-Jayne Magson killed James Knight with a single stab wound to the heart in March 2016 after a drunken row. The Court of Appeal was told yesterday that her conviction was unsafe because evidence about her mental health was not put before the trial jury.
Magson, 26, was found guilty of murder and jailed for life at Leicester crown court in November 2016. Her case is being supported by Ms Challen, whose conviction for murdering her abusive husband was quashed by the Court of Appeal in February on mental health grounds.
The Challen case has triggered a wave of legal challenges by women who are serving prison sentences for killing their present or former partners. Magson’s lawyers told three senior judges that fresh psychiatric evidence suggested she may have been suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of the killing.
Clare Wade, QC, said that Magson suffered from emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), which she said “lay in [Magson] having endured a childhood which was characterised by exposure to domestic violence”, as well as “parental neglect” and being bullied at school.
The court head that Magson had a “volatile” relationship with Knight, 26, and stabbed him after he had been physically violent and kicked in her front door.
Ms Wade said that Magson’s condition “substantially impaired her ability to exercise self-control and . . . was a significant contributory factor causing the applicant to stab the deceased”. Psychiatric experts who had been instructed before Magson’s trial now agreed that “the defence of diminished responsibility . . . would have been available to her”, the court was told.
Ms Wade also argued that Magson’s “impoverished verbal reasoning skills, EUPD and social communication difficulties” had compromised her ability to properly instruct her lawyers during her trial.
Speaking before the appeal, Joanne Smith, Magson’s mother, said: “I feel sick. Nervous, very nervous.” Ms Smith said that the Challen case had brought issues around domestic violence “to the surface”.
“I think people are starting to realise that abuse is not just black eyes and broken bones,” she added.
Ms Challen’s son, David, said before the hearing that there had been a “definite shift in our understanding as a society of the mental impact victims of abuse suffer”. He said that it was “important to stand with other victims” of domestic abuse and “male violence”. [J4MB emphasis]
Lord Justice Fulford, Mr Justice Davis and Mr Justice Johnson reserved their judgment to a later date.
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