The Battered Partner

March 26, 2024

Janet Gardner endured a lengthy history of violence, torment and what would today also be recognised as coercive control by her partner, Peter Iles. She had sought help form the police and from the courts, and had changed her jobs, all to no avail. Iles’s violence continued, including inflicting cigarette burns and, finally, an attempt to kill her.

On that last brutal occasion, she stabbed him several times.

The judge directed the jury on the effects of the provocation she had suffered. She was acquitted of the charge of murder but the jury convicted her of Iles’s manslaughter. Janet Gardner was sentenced to five years in prison. With the support of Justice for Women, we launched an appeal against Janet’s sentence. The Court of Appeal’s reduction of her sentence to a probation order was based on “exceptional circumstances of her case”, but the way was opened for trial courts to recognise experiences such as those of Janet when considering the sentence to be passed.

Judgements and media

For media reports on the case of Janet Gardner, see:

Paul Myers, “Appeal court frees woman who killed in self-defence”, the Guardian, 30 October 1992

Heather Mills, “Battered woman is freed over killing”, 30 October 1992

For an academic discussion, see:

Aileen McColgan, “In Defence of Battered Women Who Kill”, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies

Vol. 13, No. 4 (Winter, 1993), pp. 508-529