Kent Woman Wins Murder Conviction Appeal

22 July 2010, 08:06 | Updated: 22 July 2010, 08:13

A Kent woman who was jailed for life in 2007 for stabbing her boyfriend has won an appeal against her murder conviction.

Kirsty Scamp from Sheerness was 19 when she killed 28 year-old Jason Bull with a kitchen knife.

The Court of Appeal ruled the judge at the original trial had given a flawed summing-up to the jury on the issue of provocation.

Lord Justice Laws and two other judges quashed her murder conviction and imposed a six-year sentence for manslaughter.

The substituted sentence entitles Scam, now 24, to be released.

Both Scamp and her mother broke down in tears as the judges ordered her to be set free.

Scamp's lawyers said Mr Bull was violent, addicted to alcohol, took cocaine and suffered from bipolar disorder and had attacked her before she accidentally killed him as she tried to defend herself.

The prosecution case against Scamp was that she used the knife ``in a fit of jealous rage'' at the entrance to his flat in Sheerness High Street after hearing him talking on his phone to another woman on his birthday in March 2006.

She was found guilty of murder at Maidstone Crown Court in February 2007, and Judge Andrew Patience told her she would serve at least 12 years before parole was considered.

Today Joel Bennathan QC, appearing for Scamp, told the appeal court the trial judge had failed to give proper direction to the jury on the extent to which she had been provoked by Mr Bull's violent behaviour, and that he had also been violent to previous girlfriends - one of whom was also driven to threaten him with a knife.

Mr Bennathan argued that the jury should also, in the context of the provocation issue, have been told about the domestic violence that Scamp, originally from Sittingbourne, Kent, had witnessed as a child.

Allowing Scamp's appeal, Lord Justice Laws said it was not possible to exclude the possibility that the jury, on the basis of Judge Patience's summing up, ``may have considered that the provocation issue was more limited than it

He said: ``We could only consciously discount such a possibility if it was merely fanciful, or not arising at all. That is not the position.''

Lord Justice Laws said Scamp had been brought up ``in a culture of sustained domestic violence'', witnessing from a young age her mother being assaulted first by her father, and then by a boyfriend.

For one year Scamp, her mother and her brother had lived in a women's refuge in Sittingbourne.

Scamp herself had received a reprimand from the police at the age of 16 for an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, Notwithstanding that history, she left school at 16 with eight GCSEs and had worked continuously. Before the fatal stabbing she had been employed caring for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems.

She met Mr Bull, who suffered from mental illness and had attempted suicide, in December 2005. A week later she moved in with him.

During the period they lived together there were a number of violent incidents.

In February 2006, he punched her head after picking her up from work in their car and destroyed some flowers he had bought for her.

In a second incident, Scamp described being pushed to the bedroom floor and having her head smashed against a wall, before Mr Bull overdosed on painkillers and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

On a third occasion, Scamp said Bull tried to strangle her and punched her so that she suffered a perforated ear drum.

On the day of Mr Bull's death they had been celebrating his birthday when a row developed in the evening after Mr Bull had consumed more than twice the legal alcohol limit for driving and also taken cocaine.