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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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A grieving man, under the influence of alcohol, at his

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A grieving man, under the influence of alcohol, at his wife's funeral, hits his brother believing him to have committed adultery with his wife. He accidentally kills his brother because he falls against a gravestone. This is 1948 in the UK. What might he be charged with and what might the sentence be? The wife died of cancer and actually didn't have a sexual relationship with the brother although they had been sweet on each other a while ago. I am writing a novel and would be grateful for your ideas. Thank you.

Is there any reason you think he may be charged with anything other than murder?

Are you thinking of provocation?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't think you can say it was provocation. He didn't intend to kill it was an unfortunate thing his brother, Ed, fell onto the gravestone. It was in full view of everyone though at a distance. They had angry words and then Robert pushed him hard in the chest. Ed fell. Is that murder? If it is then it wasn't premeditated. Robert has epilepsy and a massive chip on his shoulder. They are from a poor background and Robert has 3 kids who will be looked after by his mother.

What were the angry words?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No witnesses as out of earshot. At graveside Robert picked up soil to throw onto wife's coffin but went into a bit of a trance. His mum, Lilly, nudged Ed who was standing next to R to get him to throw the soil. Ed misunderstands and picks up soil and throws it on coffin first. R turns abruptly and walks off fast. Lilly tells Ed to go and talk to him and get him to come back.So Robert reports that he tells Ed 'You're always there when you're not wanted. Always there trying to make me look small.' He reports that Ed said something about how R was just upset because of losing Gertie and 'you don't need to say anything that you might regret.' R reports that he could see that Ed meant that he, Ed, was trying not to say anything that he might regret saying. R reported that he said 'I never really had her though did I? It was you that should have married her. But you were always too slow off the mark. And me I was always too fast.' R reports that Ed then gave him a look and said 'Fast in some ways but bloody slow in lots of ways.' Then Robert hits him in the chest hard. No need to phone me...ta.

On the face of it that is just plain murder contrary to common law then.

There was, at that time, a defence of provocation that would have reduced it to manslaughter but it isn't made out here.

There might be a defence in arguing that he didn't intend to cause GBH by these actions and so murder is not made out if that is accepted but the only charge that could realistically be brought here is murder.

I suppose there could be a gross negligence manslaughter but it isn't likely here.

Can I clarify anything for you?


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. So how long might he be sentenced for and if good behaviour how long actually serve? And what might be a realistic amount of time between arrest and judgement? Would it be trial by jury?

Murder is always life.

At that time the punishment would have been hanging as well unless the exceptions were found.

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