Joanne Cole was convicted of the murder of her partner Patrick Hemming on the 23rd January 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment. She suffered a childhood of severe abuse and neglect and was subjected to domestic violence (on occasions of a severe nature) in all her adult relationships. She fled Jamaica, escaping ghetto violence came to England in October 1999.
Shortly after, Cole met the deceased, Patrick Hemming with whom she started a relationship. She describes Mr Hemming as controlling, possessive and occasionally violent. On the day of the offence there was an argument and Hemming started assaulting Cole throwing punches all over, there was a struggle in which Cole attempted to summon help and smashed a window in the living room. Hemming grabbed a knife and they struggled. During the course of the struggle Cole bit Hemming on the shoulder. Hemming dropped the knife Cole seized it and stabbed him once to the chest. The pathologist’s report showed that the length of wound track of the single stab ‘would appear to be superficial and approximately 5 cm in length’.
The jury rejected self defence and provocation and she was convicted of murder. The trial judge commented that “on the basis of my direction to the jury it would be possible for the jury to have convicted the defendant on the basis of excessive self defence or punishment”.