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General Principle:

The trigger can be invoked by cumulative provocation that has been offered over a period of time.


R v Ahluwalia [1992] 4 All ER 889


A woman had entered into an "arranged marriage" and had been very badly treated by her husband. He had been violent and abusive towards her. He had threatened to kill her and had once tried to run her down. He had taunted her about his affair with another woman.One evening the Defendant poured petrol over his bed as he slept and set light to it. She pleaded manslaughter claiming that she had not intended to kill him, just to cause him pain. She was convicted of murder and she appealed.


The Court pointed out the presence of a qualifying trigger in the threat to kill expressed by the husband. The issue was whether the defence of provocation as ‘sudden and temporary loss of control’ might mitigate the sentence of murder. Since the Defendant’s action did not immediately follow the husband’s provocation, the Court talked about ‘slow burn’ reaction.


Since the acts of the husband were the qualified trigger, the Court redirected the case to the jury pointing out the question of diminished responsibility due to the Defendant’s depression developed after years of abuses.

R v Ahluwalia


The courts when determining abnormality of mental functioning must arise from a specific medical condition have held post-natal depression and pre-menstrual syndrome (R v Reynolds [1988] Crim LR 679); acute depression and battered woman syndrome/post-traumatic stress disorder (R v Ahluwalia and R v Thornton) to come within this section. On the other side of the coin, the courts were quite clear what does not come within these two sections. In Fenton (1975) 61 Cr App R 261, it was held that hate, jealousy or bad temper would not come within s 52. If Angela’s depression is clinically recognised (and not just a term she has chosen to label her own ill health) she falls within this element.

R v Ahluwalia

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