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Woolmington v DPP [1935]

Facts

  • Woolmington showed his wife a gun and said he would commit suicide if she left him to live elsewhere
  • The gun discharged, killing the wife

Issue

  • Could the conviction be quashed on the grounds that the judge said it was for the jury to decide whether Woolmington had proved that the evidence was in his favour?

Decision

  • Yes, conviction quashed

Reasoning

  • Subject to some exceptions, it is always for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime in question
  • Common exceptions are the defence of insanity, which the defendant has the legal burden of proving, and where Parliament expressly wills to the contrary
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