Chapter 9
Observations from the cases


9.63Overall, we do not think the charging, trial or sentencing outcomes in these cases suggest that the structure of New Zealand’s homicide law – with two main categories of culpable homicide, no partial defences and generally discretionary sentencing – is giving rise to problems for victims of family violence who kill abusers. As we discuss in Chapter 11, we think there may be scope to improve the consistency with which histories of family violence are approached at sentencing, but we do not consider sentence methodology or outcomes are otherwise troubling.

9.64Our review has, however, taken in a fairly small number of cases, and there are methodological limitations in our analysis. In these circumstances and given our terms of reference require us to examine whether a partial defence is justified, we consider it is important also to review the case for partial defences in principle.781 We do so in the following chapter.
781The Victorian Department of Justice took a similar approach in its 2013 review of defensive homicide. The Department considered that its small sample of defensive homicide cases and the low rate of such cases (such that it would take too long to obtain a “potentially significant” sample) meant it was “important to consider defensive homicide both in policy terms as well as how it applies when men kill”: Victoria Department of Justice, above n 770, at viii. To the extent our case review also precludes definite conclusions – because of both its size and the uncertainties and limitations we have identified – we think such a two-pronged approach is helpful.