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Woolmington v DPP [1935]


  • 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


  • 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?


  • Yes, conviction quashed


  • 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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