Bedder v Director of Public Prosecutions: HL 1954

B appealed against his conviction for murder. The victim, a prostitute, had taunted the accused, then 18, for his impotence. The accused was in fact impotent.
Held: The jury had properly been directed to consider whether a reasonable man who was not impotent would have reacted in the same way. The House refused to accept that physical or mental infirmity could be regarded as material in considering whether a man had been provoked to homicide, and whether a reasonable man could have lost his self control in the circumstances. The ‘reasonable man’ is a wholly impersonal fiction to which no special characteristic of the accused should be attributed.
Though the characteristics of the accused should be taken into account by the jury in considering the gravity of the provocation, the Court should still judge the accused’s conduct by the standard of self-control to be expected of an ordinary person of the sex and age of the accused.
Lord Simonds expressed the view that no distinction could be drawn between susceptibility because of temper and susceptibility because of a physical defect which conditions a person’s temper.


Lord Simonds


[1954] 1 WLR 1119, [1954] 2 All ER 801


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Smith (Morgan James) HL 27-Jul-2000
The defendant had sought to rely upon the defence of provocation. He had suffered serious clinical depression.
Held: When directing a jury on the law of provocation, it was no longer appropriate to direct the jury to disregard any particular . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.238118