The Royal Courts of Justice building in the Strand, Westminster, London, UK.

2nd August 2022

Court of Appeal decision on householder defence

Mary Prior KC and Paul Prior

London, UK - March 23, 2022: The Royal Courts of Justice in London, UK.

Mary Prior QC and Paul Prior represented the Crown Prosecution Service, East Midlands, securing the conviction of Emma Magson for murder. Her appeal against that conviction and sentence was heard at the Court of Appeal and judgement was handed down on the 29th July 2022. The conviction was upheld and the sentence was not altered.

Emma Magson had been convicted of murder at Leicester Crown Court in 2016 when other Counsel prosecuted. That conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal in 2020. The basis of the appeal was that Miss Magson had a partial defence to murder which had not been adequately explored in her trial, namely diminished responsibility due to a recognised medical condition. The defence provided significant new psychiatric and psychological evidence. At the retrial, prosecuted by Mary Prior QC and Paul Prior, the defence was that Miss Magson had acted in self-defence and that in the alternative she had a partial defence to murder on the basis of a disposed mental health condition. The trial involved complex psychiatric and psychological evidence together with a full exploration of Miss Magson’s history as it was contended both a perpetrator of and victim of domestic violence. She was convicted. The sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 17 years imprisonment was reimposed by the trial and sentencing judge. At the appeal the issue was whether or not the householder defence as set out in section 76 (5A) and (8A) of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 applied in this case.

The Court of Appeal determined that the defence did not apply. The deceased was not a trespasser and nor did Miss Magson consider him to be so. He had a key to the property and was to all intents and purposes living there. The Court indicated that if Miss Magson was or may have been telling the truth as to how she came to stab the deceased the jury would have been bound to acquit her. They did not and therefore they rejected her account as being untrue.The conviction was upheld.

Counsel were instructed by East Midlands Crown Prosecution Service.

The case will be considered in the 36Crime newsletter in August.

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