Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 17:31 UK

1998 murder conviction challenged

Donna Marie Evans
Donna Marie Evans had told her husband she was leaving him

A man jailed for life 11 years ago after admitting repeatedly stabbing his wife to death when she left him, is appealing against his conviction.

John Evans, 64, from Kinmel Bay, Conwy, was jailed in 1998 for stabbing wife Donna, who was 16 years his junior.

He claims he pleaded guilty after flawed legal advice, that he was provoked, and that he was suffering diminished responsibility.

The Court of Appeal hearing in London is expected to last three days.

Mrs Evans, 31, had moved out of the family home and told her husband she planned to end the marriage.

He had attempted suicide and had been admitted to hospital following her departure.

We seek to prove that he was suffering from a major depressive episode which would have rendered the provocation more serious
James Wood QC

On the day of her death he went to her new home and stabbed her 11 times before turning the knife on himself 30 times.

He was found unconscious by the emergency services, lying next to his wife's body.

Evans admitted murder in February 1998 at Mold Crown Court and was jailed for life. An appeal against that conviction was refused three months later.

However his case has now been taken up by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the body that investigates suspected miscarriages of justice.

It is being reconsidered by three Appeal Court judges in London.

Manslaughter

James Wood QC, for Evans, told Lord Justice Thomas, Mr Justice Flaux and Mr Justice Maddison that Evans' former legal team had wrongly advised him to plead guilty to murder, when a verdict of manslaughter by a way of provocation would have been open to a jury.

Mr Wood said: "The defence team fell into error.

"There was a welter of evidence for provocative statements and a sudden and temporary loss of self control."

Arguing that Evans was suffering from acute depression at the time, Mr Wood told the court Mrs Evans' statement that she was leaving him amounted to "provocation".

"We seek to prove that he was suffering from a major depressive episode which would have rendered the provocation more serious for Evans and rendered him more vulnerable and woundable," he said.

"The attempted suicide demonstrated the seriousness of the provocation to him."

He said there was now fresh evidence that Evans' responsibility for the killing may have been "diminished" due to his mental state.



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