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R v Howe

[1987] 2 WLR 568

Case summary last updated at 13/01/2020 14:21 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Howe

Two cases heard together: both cases where Ds had murdered Vs because they feared that M would kill them if they refused to kill Vs. HL dismissed the appeals, saying that duress was not a defence to murder, nor is it a defence to murder as an accessory. Lord Hailsham argues against allowing duress as a defence to murder by saying that in cases of killing after WWII the defence of duress was barely distinguishable from the defence of superior orders. In light of the war crimes committed by the Nazis this is clearly a defence with shortcomings and therefore duress should not be extended to murder. HL also said that duress fails where a person of reasonable firmness with D’s characteristics would not have given way, where D in fact did. Lord Mackay defined duress as the two-part question: (1) did D act in response to fear based on reasonable belief as to something X had said or done, and (2) would a sober person of reasonable firmness have acted in same way as D 

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