The provocation defence

The Herald reports:

The family of a man who was bashed to death with a banjo have angrily condemned the law that allows a partial defence of after his killer was found guilty of manslaughter last night.

Ferdinand Ambach, a 31-year-old dive master from Hungary, had been accused of murdering Ronald James Brown, 69, after the pair got into a violent argument at Mr Brown’s Onehunga flat on December 7, 2007.

He claims that Mr Brown, who was gay, made unwanted sexual advances towards him. During the trial in the High Court at Auckland, his lawyer, Peter Kaye, raised the possibility Mr Brown may have attempted to rape Ambach which triggered “a monstrous rage” where the tourist temporarily lost his self-control.

As far as I know, there was no evidence submitted to prove this – it was just rasied as a possibility.

After three and a half days of deliberations, the verdict was delivered at 6.45pm. When Ambach was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter, there were gasps from Mr Brown’s friends and family in the public gallery. Ambach was expressionless as he was remanded in custody until sentencing.

The family say:

Mr Brown’s niece Tracy Evans told the Herald her family were “deeply disgusted with the verdict”. She said the [provocation] law was “archaic” and had allowed a murderer to receive a reduced sentence for a “horrific crime”.

“It’s a sad indictment on our legal system that the defence can completely fabricate a case and slander a good man’s character in an attempt to defend a murderer.”

Indeed. Made worse by the fact the dead person can not defend themselves.

I do know of a couple of cases where provocation was exceptional, and a manslaughter verdict was (imo) justified.

But in recent years more and more I see the provocation defence being used to slander the dead, and especially used for “homosexual panic” claims. One case had a the accused get manslaughter only with this defence despite the fact he was a male callboy!

If unwanted sexual advances was legitimate provocation to kill someone, the population would be greatly reduced.

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