Provocation defence gets Korean man off murder charge
Who's the galoot in the hat? You might ask. It's actually the trial lawyer, Winston Terracini, who got the Korean guy off the hook
A MAN who caught his wife in bed with his close friend has been found not guilty of murder on the grounds of provocation.
Joachim Won came home from work sick in May 2010 to find his 44-year-old wife, Anna, having sex with his friend Hyung Mo Lee. Won, then 56, went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and stabbed Mr Lee, 48, seven times, allegedly shouting "you must die" or "he must die".
A NSW Supreme Court jury took less than an hour to return a verdict of not guilty to murder. Won was automatically found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Won was overcome with emotion when the verdict was delivered yesterday.
Won's barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, said: "It's a very satisfying result and Mr Won, through his legal representatives, had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter from the very beginning but the Crown rejected it."
Mr Terracini had told the jury his client was acting under "provocation", in that he was so shocked by what he saw he lost self-control.
The jury was asked to decide if the act of finding a spouse in bed with someone else could have induced an ordinary person in the position of Won to have so far lost self-control as to have formed an intent to kill, or to inflict grievous bodily harm.
The case is the latest to focus public attention on the law of provocation, which is the subject of an inquiry by the NSW Parliament. The inquiry began last month following the case of Chamanjot Singh, who was given a six-year jail sentence for slitting his wife's throat with a box cutter.
In May, Singh was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder after a jury accepted his claim that he had been provoked by a stream of verbal abuse from Manpreet Kaur, 29, including an alleged threat that she would have him deported.
Mr Terracini said the principle of provocation had been seen as valid since the 19th century.
Reacting to the verdict, the victims' advocate Howard Brown said cases where provocation is argued should be left to judges, not juries.
The defence of provocation was abolished in Tasmania in 2003 and Victoria in 2005, following a recommendation by the Victorian Law Reform Commission which found the law "partly legitimates killings committed in anger".
I am going to be all multicultural here and note that, when normally great Asian patience is pushed beyond its breaking point, the result is often explosive. The man "runs amok", as they say in Malaysia. So I think that on multicultural grounds at least, the defence of provocation should remain available, with juries in the best position to sort out the claims in particular cases, as they did above