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   Case summaries      R v Bowyer

R v Bowyer  [2013] WLR(D) 130  Court of Appeal

The defendant, Barry Bowyer and the victim Gary Suller, were both having a relationship with Katie Whitbread, a prostitute. Suller was her pimp.  The defendant was not aware she was a prostitute. They were both aware of the other’s relationship. On the night of the killing, the defendant went to Suller’s house to burgle him. Suller disturbed the burglary and a fight developed. Suller then revealed that Katie was a prostitute and taunted him that she was her best earner. The defendant  lost his control and  beat Suller and tied him up with an electricity cable. He was alive when he left him but was found dead the following afternoon. The defendant was addicted to heroin, diagnosed as bipolar and suffered social phobia, anxiety and depression.


The defendant had no justifiable sense of being wronged given that he was committing a burglary at the time of the offence.

Lord CJ:

“The appellant was a self -confessed burglar. He deliberately entered the home of the deceased in order to steal property, to sell it to feed his drug habit. He deliberately targeted the house, taking every precaution to avoid detection. At the very best, he suggests that he just snapped when, following the householder's return, he, the householder, reacted violently to the presence of the burglar in his home and used deliberately insulting remarks about the appellant's girlfriend. To that the somewhat colloquial answer is, "So what"? If either of these men was justified in losing his self control, it was the deceased. The deceased was entitled to say and do anything reasonable, including the use of force, to eject the burglar from his home. Even taking the appellant's evidence at face value (and we bear in mind that the jury must have rejected it) it is absurd to suggest that the entirely understandable response of the deceased to finding a burglar in his home provided the appellant with the remotest beginnings of a basis for suggesting that he had any justifiable sense of being wronged, let alone seriously wronged. On that basis alone, one essential ingredient of this defence was entirely absent. Furthermore, we can detect no evidence of loss of control. The tragic events which occurred in the home of the deceased bore all the hallmarks of appalling violence administered in cold blood.”

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