The appellant was convicted of the murder of his romantic partner of eight years and was sentenced to life in prison. On the night of the murder, the appellant first beat his partner in front of her three children. One of children called the police to report the beating, but the police failed to respond to the residence. Following the beating, the appellant left the house, but returned an hour later, broke into the house, and stabbed his partner to death. The appellant then drove his partner to the hospital where he was subsequently arrested. At the appellant' trial, testimony revealed that the appellant was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the killing and had a history of domestic violence. The first issue before the Court of Appeal was whether the trial judge gave adequate instructions on the potential for intoxication to be taken into account when deciding whether there was an intent to kill for the purposes of the appellant’s defense. The Court of Appeal found that such instructions given by the trial judge were adequate. The next issue decided by the Court of Appeal was whether new evidence from a forensic psychiatrist based on a single interview with the appellant regarding the appellant’s mental health necessitated a new trial. The Court of Appeal found the new evidence to be less than credible, but exercised discretion to substitute the original conviction of murder to a conviction of manslaughter and reduced the appellant’s sentence to 18 years. In reducing the sentence, the Court of Appeal began with the range of sentences for murder applicable a street fight (being 15 to 20 years), although acknowledged that the instant case differed in that it was a “vicious attack on an unarmed victim.” Taking into account appellant’s diagnosis of schizophrenia, the Court of Appeal began with a 15-year sentence and then added three years to reflect the aggravating factors of “the choice of weapon, the number of stab wounds, the presence of the children and the previous violence he inflicted on the deceased about an hour before the fatal incident” to arrive at the 18 year sentence ordered.
Lawrence v. The Queen