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Criminal Law: Three men hope to overturn murder convictions based on law change

Three men found guilty of murdering their wives will appear at the Court of Appeal hoping to overturn their murder convictions following a change in the law.

The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 abolished the common law defence to murder of provocation and replaced it with the defence of 'loss of control', applicable to murders which occurred on or after 4 October 2010.

The three men involved in the appeal claim their crimes were manslaughter, rather than murder, on the grounds of the new defence of 'loss of control'.

Steven Parker of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, admitted to manslaughter after he stabbed his wife. He claimed grounds of 'loss of control' but the defence was left to the jury to decide.

In the case of Dewi Evans, of South Wales, the jury was again left to decide on his defence. He also admitted to manslaughter, claiming a temporary loss of control when he and his wife Jackie argued over a cup of tea and he stabbed her.

The third case involved Jon-Jacques Clinton from Bracknell, Berkshire, whose wife Dawn died from head injuries and asphyxia. Mr Clinton was found guilty of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 26 years' imprisonment.

During his trial, the judge withdrew the defence of loss of control from the jury. He is the only one of the three to appear in the dock at the hearing in the London court room.

Although the three cases are separate and were tried in different Crown Courts this year, they are to be heard together at the Court of Appeal because they deal with similar issues.

The hearing will last for two days and judgment is likely to be reserved.

One of the three judges presiding over the case, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, said that the new law was "difficult" and "needs to be interpreted".

Related links:
Read more on the story (BBC)
Can I appeal a criminal conviction? (FindLaw)
Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)