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Jury in wife's murder trial 'not given vital report'

THE Court of Appeal yesterday reserved judgment in the case of a wife who claims she was wrongly convicted of murdering her brutal husband because she was 'provoked' into killing him.

Medical evidence that Kiranjit Ahluwalia was profoundly depressed, in terror and under extreme emotional turmoil at the time she killed her violent husband was never made known to the jury at her 1989 trial, her counsel, Geoffrey Robertson QC, said.

He added that the report, by Malcolm Weller, a consultant pychiatrist, was supported by the evidence of four other psychiatrists, showing that when she set light to her husband, her mental state was such that her responsibility was severely diminished.

She received a mandatory life sentence. The court heard she suffered 10 years of abuse, extreme violence and humilation.

Although her lawyers at the time of the trial were aware of Dr Weller's initial findings - which Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice said yesterday had been 'crying out' for investigation - they did not apparently pursue them or seek another opinion.

Mr Robertson is arguing dimished responsibility as a further ground to provocation in Ahluwalia's appeal. He has argued that though there was a three-hour delay after the last abuse she suffered, her violent reaction was still provoked by his actions. Courts have tended to rule that any delay amounts to a 'cooling-off' period. Lawyers and women's groups argue this can be a 'boiling-over' period.

The judges reserved a decision.