Case briefing general principal of law 2.Duress is the defence that applies where a person commits a crime because theywere acting under a threat of death or serious personal injury to themselves oranother.R V. HOWE The defendant had fallen under evil influence of a man called Murray.
In theappeal, the appellants with an intended victim were driven by Murray to an isolated areawhere the appellants and Murray assaulted the victim and then Murray killed him. On asecond similar occasion the appellants jointly strangled a victim. On a third occasion, theintended victim escaped. The appellant were tried on indictment on two counts of murder and one of conspiracy to murder.
The appellant, Howe was present as aidersand abettors at the killing.
Their defence was that they feared for their own lives if they did not do as Murray directed. Murray is the secondary parties in this case. H
eadmitted to being parties to the killing and the conspiracy to kill in thecircumstances, they alleged that they are feared that Murray will treat them inthe same way as if he did not comply Murray instruction.1. MURDER OF ELGARHe was the first victim, 17 years old. He was offered a job driver by Murray.Murray asks the five men to kill Elgar because he said that Murray was a grass.Howe strangling Elgar with shoelace and he admitted to being parties to thekilling and the conspiracy to kill in the circumstances, they alleged that they arefeared that Murray will treat them in the same way as Elgar if he did not complyMurray instruction.2. MURDER OF POLLITTSame course of the conduct took place as Elgar.3. CONSPIRACY TO MURDER REDFERNHe suspected that something was afoot and managed with some skill to escapeon his motorcycle.
ISSUE THAT ARISING FROM THE CASE1.
whether duress is available as a defence in law to a person charged with murder as aprincipal in the first degree (actual killer) ?Duress defence was not available in murder. The principle that duress should never be adefence to murder was laid down as far back as the sixteenth century. A person underduress should die him or herself rather than escape by means of murdering an innocentperson.