Post-Provocation Sentencing in Domestic Homicides: The Role of Mental Impairment in Defence Narratives - Rosemary Hunter

Professor Rosemary Hunter will speak about post-provocation sentencing in domestic homicides.

The Centre for Law and Social Justice and the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies are delighted to welcome Prof. Rosemary Hunter (University of Kent) who will be delivering a seminar at 1pm on Wednesday 27th February in G.29 of the Liberty Building.


In 2005 the Australian State of Victoria abolished the defence of provocation. Part of the impetus for the reforms was to challenge provocation’s victim-blaming narratives and the defence’s tendency to excuse men’s violence against intimate partners. However, concerns were also expressed that these narratives and excuses would simply reappear at the sentencing stage when men who had killed intimate partners were convicted of murder or manslaughter. In order to explore whether this had occurred in practice, I worked with Danielle Tyson, a criminologist from Deakin University, to conduct a systematic examination of judicial sentencing decisions in the 10 years after provocation was abolished. We found that while elements of victim-blaming and arguments based on provocation remained present in defendants’ pleas in mitigation, they were generally rejected by trial judges. Beyond this, however, we identified a greater emphasis by defence counsel on mental illness or impairment as an avenue for offenders to argue for mitigation in sentencing. The use of mental impairment as an explanatory narrative in these cases requires further analysis. In this paper I present preliminary findings from a study of the role of mental illness and/or impairment in sentencing in cases of domestic homicide. Our analysis suggests that while the 2005 reforms have had some success in challenging the gendered assumptions underpinning provocation’s victim-blaming narratives, it is possible that in the absence of the provocation defence, these assumptions may be redeployed as part of the defendant’s mental health narrative.

About the speaker

Professor Rosemary Hunter is Professor of Law and Socio-Legal Studies at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). She teaches Family Law and Jurisprudence and Legal Theory and also contributes to PhD Research Seminars. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, the Chair of the Socio-Legal Studies Association (since 2011), a founding editor of the online open access journal feminists@law, one of the General Editors of the Onati International Series in the Sociology of Law and one of the Series Editors of the Edward Elgar Research Handbooks in Law and Society.


Please register here for Rosemary's presentation.

Location details

Seminar Room G.29
School of Law
Liberty Building
University of Leeds

For sat navs, please use the postcode for Moorland Road, LS6 1AN. 

The Liberty Building can also be found on the campus map

All welcome. This is a free event, though registration is required.

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