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Friday, October 1, 1999 Published at 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK


Woman who killed boyfriend walks free

Diana Butler suffered years of abuse by her partner

A woman who killed her lover after suffering years of abuse at his hands has walked free from court.

Diana Butler, whose conviction for murdering Roger Carlin was quashed last year by the Court of Appeal, was sentenced to three years' probation on Friday. She admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Mr Carlin was stabbed in the back during a row at the couple's home in Doncaster, South Yorkshire in July 1996.

Butler was convicted of murder at Sheffield Crown Court in December 1997 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

But in November last year the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction.

Medical treatment

At her retrial at Durham Crown Court in July Butler's plea of guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was accepted by the prosecution.

Mr Justice Morland, sitting at the High Court in London, made the probation order on condition she receives medical treatment, resides at a given address and submits herself to supervision by the probation service.

In a statement issued through the pressure group Justice for Women, Butler said: "What I did I will have to live with for ever.

"If I could turn the clock back I would rather cut off my right hand than do what I did. I will regret it for the rest of my life."

The 32-year-old mother-of-two has been living in a bail hostel since being released from prison last year. She is expected to stay there but should eventually be reunited with her children.

Justice for Women spokeswoman, Julie Bindel, told BBC News Online: "Diana suffered years of rape, humiliation and battering from a very violent man and should never have stood trial for murder. It was a complete waste of taxpayers' money."

Ms Bindel explained why Butler had not simply opted to leave Mr Carlin: "Her self-esteem was at its lowest ebb. She had a child to consider and she cared about him - he had been a very loving partner.

"She wanted to put their relationship right and did not want to break up her home."

'No excuse for abuse'

Ms Bindel denied Butler had made up stories about her lover to excuse her behaviour.

She said: "She did not want to blacken his name but she had to when her life depended on it.

"Her evidence was so harrowing many of those in the court were in tears. It's not easy to lie like that."

Ms Bindel said Butler hoped to be reunited with her children as soon as possible.

She said the case highlighted weaknesses in UK homicide laws and suggested the jury at her original trial were "ignorant".

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