Jury asks judge about self-defence, acquits abused husband

A Supreme Court jury this week acquitted Phillip Bracken of the murder of his partner, accepting his claim that he shot her in self-defence after enduring years of abuse. The prosecution argued that shooting the unarmed woman was a “plainly disproportionate” response to her coming towards him. After days of deliberation, the jury asked Justice Maxwell to clarify the law of self-defence. His Honour explained that the key question was whether the accused had “a belief that what he did was necessary even if he is responding to a harm that is not immediate.” The jury was entitled to take into account the “cumulative effect” of years of emotional and physical violence in deciding the issue.