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In the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
R v Taylor
Mrs Taylor was tried at Lincoln Crown Court and was convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent to do grievous bodily harm contrary to s 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, and murder contrary to common law.
During Mrs Taylor’s trial it was established that she had inflicted a serious head injury upon Miss Emma Phillips by striking her in the head with a mallet. Miss Phillips had been rushed to hospital and underwent several hours of major brain surgery as a result of the attack. Mrs Taylor’s evidence was that she had felt compelled to strike Miss Phillips as she had been instructed to do so by her husband, who had threatened to kill her daughter if she did not comply. There was a long and documented history of serious physical violence and controlling behaviour committed by Mr Taylor against Mrs Taylor and her daughter.
It was also established that later that night Mrs Taylor had struck Mr Taylor with the mallet intending to kill him, and in fact killing him instantly. Mrs Taylor’s evidence was that she had struck Mr Taylor because she had feared for her life when he had grabbed her by the hair and threatened her to ‘keep her mouth shut about Emma, or else!’.
As a result of the abuse that she has suffered at the hands of her husband, Mrs Taylor had been diagnosed as suffering from Battered Women’s Syndrome and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
At trial before HHJ Lee, Mrs Taylor’s advocate made the following arguments:
1. The defence of duress should be left to the jury in respect of the s 18 offence committed against Miss Phillips.
2. Mrs Taylor’s Battered Women’s Syndrome and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder should be taken into account when the jury considered whether or not she acted in self-defence in her attack against Mr Taylor.
HHJ Lee rejected both of those submissions ruling that:
1. Duress was not available to a defendant when as a result of the defendant’s voluntary association with others engaged in criminal activity, he or she foresaw or ought reasonably to have foreseen the risk of being subjected to compulsion by threats of violence: R v Hasan  4 All ER 685.
2. The question of whether or not the force used in self-defence was reasonable was an objective question to be determined by the jury. In answering that question the jury should not take account of the effect of psychiatric conditions suffered by the defendant: R v Martin (Anthony)  QB 1.
Mrs Taylor was convicted and she now appeals on the basis that the trial judge misdirected the jury.