R v Cocker – Case Summary

R v Cocker

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1989] Crim LR 740.


The defendant’s wife suffered from an intolerable and incurable medical condition, and repeatedly begged the defendant to kill her. One morning, she awoke the defendant by scratching him and demanded that he kill her. He asphyxiated her with a pillow, hesitating once when he thought she wanted him to stop, but continuing when she begged him to continue.

The defendant was charged with murder. In his defence, he relied on the defence of provocation (a predecessor to the defence of loss of control). He claimed that her demands had become too much for him.

  1. Was there a relevant provocation?
  2. Had the defendant lost control?

The Court of Appeal described the wife’s behaviour as ‘the opposite’ of provocation. They characterised the defendant as not losing control, but deliberately acceding to his wife’s wishes. This was demonstrated in particular by the defendant’s calm manner and temporary hesitation.

This Case is Authority For…

This case indicates that defendants are not likely to succeed in showing that they have lost control in mercy killing cases.