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Family violence victims who kill abusers should have self-defence claim: Law Commission

Filed under: General — JohnBrett @ 11:56 am Sun 15th May 2016

Victims of family violence who kill their abusers should be able to claim self-defence more easily, the Law Commission says.

The commission’s report on family violence laws, requested by the Government, has recommended lowering the threshold for self-defence to help women who “have endured years of trauma and abuse”.

In its report, the Law Commission said New Zealand had the highest reported rate of family violence in the developed world.
Justice Minister Amy Adams says the Law Commission’s recommendation would be “a significant departure” from current laws.

Justice Minister Amy Adams says the Law Commission’s recommendation would be “a significant departure” from current laws.

The commission has recommended changing the law to state that self-defence can apply when a person is responding to family violence – even when the threat is not “imminent”, as currently must be the case.

* New family violence offences considered
* ‘Underbelly of abuse’ in NZ
* Govt puts microscope on ‘horrific’ domestic violence rates
* Domestic violence victims need more support
* Amy Adams: We can turn the tide on family violence
* Outdated attitudes not helping family violence victims – report

Lead commissioner Dr Wayne Mapp said there were some “deeply-held myths” about family violence, such as that those being abused could simply walk away.
Family violence victims who kill their abusers are often defending themselves after “years of trauma and abuse”, the Law …

Family violence victims who kill their abusers are often defending themselves after “years of trauma and abuse”, the Law Commission says.

“The reality is family violence in many cases is part of an ongoing, sustained, vicious pattern of violence that traps the person.

“That entrapment means she cannot leave, and that then means she ultimately, for fear of her life, or that of her children, sees no other way out but to defend herself with lethal force.”

Mapp said New Zealand’s self-defence laws were “out of step” with countries like the UK and Australia, and there was “ample evidence” that women convicted here of manslaughter or murder should have been acquitted for acting in self defence due to family violence.

He did not believe changing the law would lead to people using family violence as an excuse for premeditated murder, saying it would be up to juries to decide whether a self-defence claim was believable.
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The law change could allow a woman to kill her sleeping partner and claim self-defence, if she made a “believable” case of family violence.

“Such a claim would only be successful if it existed in the context of a sustained long period of family violence, and if you didn’t do that then, the next thing going to happen to you is that you were going to be killed instead.”


Other recommendations in the report were:

* Allowing a broader range of evidence about family violence to support claims of self-defence.

* Ensuring “consistent consideration” of a history of family violence as a mitigating factor during sentencing.

* Continuing to educate judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers about family violence.

* Reviewing the “three strikes” law and how it affects victims of family violence.

Women’s Refuge New Zealand chief executive Ange Jury said the self-defence proposal was “a good move forward”, given what victims of family violence had to deal with.

“It’s been likened to a form of terrorism, and I don’t think that’s going too far…unless you’ve actually been there, I don’t think anyone can know what that feels like.”

However, Jury said the most important recommendation was educating those in the justice system about the nature of family violence.

“Unless the people administering the law have a really good, sound understanding of what domestic violence is, what it looks like, what it does, it’s not going to be administered properly anyway.”


Justice Minister Amy Adams said she welcomed the Law Commission’s “comprehensive” report, which the Government had asked it to prioritise.

“A terrible consequence of family violence is that some victims are driven to killing their abusers – as a result of often years of abuse.”

Adams said the Law Commission’s proposals would be “a significant departure” from the current laws, and would need “careful thought and discussion”.

“We have to be incredibly careful – letting someone off killing another human being is an incredibly serious thing to do.”

The recommendations would be considered as part of the Government’s work on family violence, she said.


The Law Commission has identified a number of New Zealand cases where victims of family violence who killed their abusers, including:

* Amanda Taitapanui: The 29-year-old was sentenced to 12 months of home detention in April for manslaughter after fatally stabbing her partner Mura Dean Tagatauli in the leg. A police summary about the killing said the couple had an “extensive family violence history”.

* Dale Wickham: In 2010, the 62-year-old was sentenced to 12 months home detention for manslaughter after killing her husband John Wickham. Her lawyer said at trial Wickham had put up with years of abuse from her husband, who had made threats to kill her by hitting her with a brick and putting her body in the pool to cover it up.

* Gay Oakes: In 1995, Oakes received a life sentence for murder after poisoning her partner Doug Gardner and burying him in the garden of their Christchurch home. Oakes was furious at the abuse he meted out to her and their children, but a partial defence of provocation failed at her trial.

Stuff article


  1. Lead commissioner Dr Wayne Mapp said there were some “deeply-held myths” about family violence
    Mr Mapp appears to subscribe to those myths himself, with his apparent belief that all domestic violence is committed BY MALES, AGAINST FEMALES, as evidenced by his consistant use of the word ‘women’ and the pronoun ‘she’ when discussing victims.

    Comment by JohnBrett — Sun 15th May 2016 @ 12:00 pm

  2. Couple of points here that need to be considered. The Inalienable Right to Life denies me the right to take my own life yet appears to be given to a “woman” should she become frightened that I will take her life. The taking of my life can also be premeditated (murdered whilst you sleep) which gives her access to cunning. Even the bloody French will be shocked at this suggestion. The psychological conditioning which makes me a violent person is condemed and ignored but the psychological conditioning that keeps her from leaving me to live somewhere safe is acknowledge and accepted as a good reason to take my life.

    If my neighbour is a patched Gang headquarters and they keep threatening me and my family, then failing the police being able to protect me and stop the threats and harassment, will I be able to pour petrol around the house during the night and kill the lot of them?

    This proposed law is very very dangerous to our society. Just as dangerous as Family Violence but the obvious solution, personal responsibility, is once again being buried in preference to regressive left wing ideology…in this case Feminism.

    Comment by triassic — Sun 15th May 2016 @ 12:56 pm

  3. Since removing the defence of “provocation” from everyone, the white knight, mangina politicians have realised that they should make a Law exempting women murderers who, instead of claiming “provocation”, will now be able to claim “self defence”.

    Comment by golfa — Sun 15th May 2016 @ 2:14 pm

  4. The Law Commission has been threatening to make these recommendations for some time. Their documents outlining their research and reasoning are seriously flawed, but we haven’t had time to prepare a critique yet. There’s a project for someone; pretty easy pickings it will be.

    The proposal is a potpourri of fallacious ideology and legal duplicity. It’s a special ‘provocation defence’ (in this case a FULL defence), a special variation on the self-defence legal defence (in which, unlike self-defence for everyone else, no imminent threat is necessary), a back-door introduction of ‘battered woman’s syndrome defence’ (something that western Courts fairly consistently rejected because the research did not justify it), and a variation of the insanity defence when no insanity can be proven (arguing that a battered woman doesn’t have the mental capacity to use any of the numerous, state-supported services that help them leave a relationship safely).

    The Law Commission has been seriously indoctrinated by feminists and has bought their ideology hook, line and sinker. The Commission looked at a handful of case histories and claim that their proposed changes would apply to only a handful of cases. Yeah right. Every murderous woman already attempts to blame her violence on abuse by the dead male who can no longer give his side of the story; the difference will be that many of those women will now be acquitted.

    No consideration appears to have been given to the effect of making homicide more acceptable. The Law Commission’s proposals will increase homicidal domestic violence. Easy, just call Women’s Refuge and tell them some outrageous lies, then murder the man and tell the police and Court some more outrageous lies. It will be crucial that all men in relationships with women make sure their assets are tied up legally so that the woman cannot inherit them, because that will be the most frequent motivator.

    Comment by Ministry of Men's Affairs — Sun 15th May 2016 @ 8:47 pm

  5. Note also that the three cases put forward by the Law Commission already involved huge pussy passes. The first two got 12 months home detention for premeditated killings that were given compassionate verdicts of manslaughter. Gay Oakes, who not only killed a man while he lay asleep but also covered up her crime is possibly the only person in NZ ever to be convicted of murder then released in under ten years that was legally the minimum at that time. Our courts already show favouritism to female murderers, so what’s the need give women yet another licence to kill? That’s what this is, a licence for females to kill men.

    Men won’t get that licence even though many men are trapped in abusive relationships that they will never be able to escape from. When men do try to escape the systems of the State will pursue them and ensure their abusive ex partners can keep wrecking their lives through so-called ‘child support’, so-called ‘protection orders’, the torment of wrecking their relationships with their children by disrupting contact (regardless of court orders) and parental alienation, and false allegations that will be supported by biased police and courts. By the Law Commission’s reasoning, men should be able to kill ex-partners like that because it’s their only option to escape a living hell that will drive many of them to suicide.

    Comment by Ministry of Men's Affairs — Sun 15th May 2016 @ 9:04 pm

  6. I certainly hope there is a huge pushback on this and find it extremely disappointing that Mapp appears to lack the ability to stand back from such a serious issue and view objectively.
    Some of the comments I have heard on radio from women have been frightening.

    Adams is also a major disappointment.

    Comment by allan — Sun 15th May 2016 @ 9:20 pm

  7. # 4 – Golfa, thanks for supporting my ongoing concerns that Provocation was deliberately removed from the statues so that Conflict could escalate with our consequence, and or any legal defence for same – and yes you are right – now they want to make it easier for Women to provoke and then have a defence so that Business and conflict can continue unabated…….

    Another little insight that I have just exposed………admin reviews are being conducted against all the rights to Due Process, Common Law and Natural law and the Bill of rights………FACT.

    In my case – admin reviews were conducted by CHEERY PICKING evidence to paint me in a poor light, and using confirmation bias which then led to BIASED and UNLAWFUL review decisions being made – No one has to abide by an UNLAWFUL decision – conducted against all the provisions of the Bill of Rights……Common and Natural law.

    As an example of how they DELIBERATELY IGNORE FACTS – they deliberately removed from OFFICIAL Record the ONE dependent child in my care – and have refused to formally report her existence for FOUR YEARS – which I have now caught them out doing…….

    So by deliberately refusing to formally record the existence of a dependent child in my care – this allowed for excessive demands to be made of me in biased decisions – over and above what I was actually earning as income……

    For four years they refused to accept the fact that I had this child in my care, offical records which listed her existence were altered to remove her – and only now after four years of hell trying to fight for some form of justice have they finally re-inserted her as a dependent child – for the 2016/17 year…………

    These are the tactics of those corrupted by power and control, who want revenue an debt creation at any cost……creating penalty and excessive debt on parents while ignoring parental alienation and the harm this causes our children………

    Creating CONFLICT is GOOD for Business……..fixing the problem is NOT……..

    Comment by hornet — Mon 16th May 2016 @ 10:27 am

  8. What is the point of a bill of rights when there are so many exemptions. I think NZers believe we are civilised country because we have a bill of rights but in fact it’s just lip (stick) service.

    Comment by A dad — Mon 16th May 2016 @ 12:24 pm

  9. So today a male, admittedly a total b****** who is probably guilty as charged, is sentenced to 20 YEARS for abusing 3 women who in all honesty could have left at any time and certainly weren’t murdered. Compare this to several women who have killed their male partners recently and received 18 (or 12?) month home detention – or nothing. And here we see another attempt to push the boundaries back even further. How long before men are arrested at puberty for being found to be in possession of testicles? You couldn’t make this up.

    Comment by Doug — Thu 19th May 2016 @ 9:12 pm

  10. Doug @9, do you have a link to the article about this sentence?

    Note also today, a navy commander’s 31 year faithful service to the country is less important than the claim by a female that he groped her bottom once and pinched her bottom several more times at a naval social event. There was no evidence that the bottom-touching caused any injury or visible mark. She was affected by alcohol at the time and she did not see the accused do the alleged deeds. Others present had given evidence that they had not seen the alleged offences. Never mind, a woman said so and this must always be believed. As must her ridiculous suggestion that what she alleged was comparable to her repeatedly grabbing a male’s balls.

    Even if the Court Martial’s judgment was correct that the commander did the deeds, surely a fine, reparation and a rehabilitation program would have been more than reasonable punishment for such minor offending? Losing his career on this basis is ridiculous. Sure, it’s not acceptable to pinch someone’s bottom, it would be upsetting and humiliating etc etc, and if someone re-offended similarly then more serious consequences would be justified. But are women so royal that some light bottom-pinching of one by a male should result in life-wrecking punishment?

    Comment by Man X Norton — Thu 19th May 2016 @ 10:31 pm

  11. The law change will enable NZ women like this British woman to kill to their hearts’ content unpunished. “Oh, he reduced my confidence by calling me names and I felt I had no choice.”

    Comment by Man X Norton — Fri 27th May 2016 @ 8:52 am

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