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Indeed, it might be said the defence is needed only because of the existence of the mandatory life sentence for murder. LEADING CASE R V NORTON, OLD BAILEY Sidney Norton was eighty-six years old and was charged with the murder of his wife Betty, aged eighty-five. They had been married for HOMICIDE fifty-seven years. Betty had had a stroke, was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and Sidney was caring for her. He found caring for her extremely stressful. He killed her by smothering her with two plastic bags.

Herring, Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials (2008, Oxford University Press). Horder and McGowan, ‘Manslaughter by Causing Another’s Suicide’ [2006] Criminal Law Review 1035. ’ [2007] Criminal Law Review 546. ’ (1993) 56 Modern Law Review 621. Mill, On Liberty (1859). Norrie, Crime, Reason and History (2001, Cambridge University Press). Ormerod, Smith and Hogan Criminal Law (2008, Oxford University Press). 31  2 HOMICIDE Homicide involves killing someone. There are two crimes of homicide in English law:  Murder.

In 1991 the House of Lords decided that the law was outdated and changed it, upholding a husband’s conviction for rape of his wife and declaring that the defence for husbands no longer existed. The husband took his case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the House of Lords had, in effect, engaged in retrospective law making. The European Court supported the House of Lords, arguing that the law had to adapt to changes in society and the essence of the offence of rape had not been altered by their decision.

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