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Should 'provocation' be allowed as a partial defence of murder?

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Clayton Weatherston admitted stabbing Sophie Elliott 216 times but denied it was murder. Photos / The Press, pool, supplied
Clayton Weatherston admitted stabbing Sophie Elliott 216 times but denied it was murder. Photos / The Press, pool, supplied

Provocation defence - what it means:

The defence is covered under section 169 of the Crimes Act 1961.

The provocation defence allows for a killing that would otherwise be classed as murder to be downgraded to manslaughter if it can be proven that the person who caused the death was provoked.

The provocation must have some relation to a characteristic of the offender.

It must cause the offender to lose the power of self-control of an ordinary person and have induced the offender to kill.

The Law Commission has called for the partial provocation defence to be repealed in 2001 and 2007. The Commission recommended to the former Labour-led Government that the issue of provocation should be dealt with by the judge at sentencing.

The Law Society argued in 2007 that the defence is important in New Zealand's legal framework, given that there is no other ability for the jury to distinguish between degrees of murder, as in the American system.

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