Kwaku Mensah v The King: PC 1946

(West Africa) The judge had failed to give a direction on provocation in a murder case where the issue properly arose.
Lord Goddard said: ‘But if on the whole of the evidence there arises a question whether or not the offence might be manslaughter only, on the ground of provocation as well as on any other ground, the judge must put that question to the jury. This was distinctly laid down in Rex v Hopper [1915] 2 KB 431, a case in some respects resembling the present, more especially in that the line of defence adopted was that the killing was accidental and no attempt had been made at the trial to rely on provocation. The ruling was expressly approved by the House of Lords in Mancini v Director of Public Prosecutions [1942] AC 1. The reason for the rule is that on an indictment for murder it is open to the jury to find a verdict of either murder or manslaughter, but the onus is always on the prosecution to prove that the offence amounts to murder if that verdict is sought. If on the whole of the evidence there is nothing which could entitle a jury to return the lesser verdict the judge is not bound to leave it to them to find murder or manslaughter. But if there is any such evidence then, whether the defence have relied on it or not, the judge must bring it to the attention of the jury, because if they accept it or are left in doubt about it the prosecution have not proved affirmatively a case of murder.’


Lord Goddard


[1946] AC 83, [1945] UKPC 51, (1946) 2 CR 113, [1946] 2 WWR 455






CitedRegina v Hopper CCA 1914
Lord Reading CJ said: ‘We do not assent to the suggestion that as the defence throughout the trial was accident, the judge was justified in not putting the question as to manslaughter. Whatever the line of defence adopted by counsel at the trial of . .
CitedMancini v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1941
There are exceptional cases to the rule in Woolmington for: ‘offences where onus of proof is specially dealt with by statute’. ‘There is no reason to repeat to the jury the warning as to reasonable doubt again and again, provided that the direction . .

Cited by:

ApprovedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Daley PC 1980
(Jamaica) The defendants had an argument with the deceased, who ran from them, tripped on a concrete ramp and fell. He died a few days later. The accused had thrown stones at him while he was running from them. The prosecution alleged that he died . .
CitedRegina v Coutts HL 19-Jul-2006
The defendant was convicted of murder. Evidence during the trial suggested a possibility of manslaughter, but neither the defence nor prosecution proposed the alternate verdict. The defendant now appealed saying that the judge had an independent . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice

Updated: 25 November 2022; Ref: scu.243354