Premenstrual Syndrome and Criminal Responsibility

  • Christopher Boorse


In 1980-81, two British women escaped murder convictions by arguing that their legal responsibility was diminished by premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In a fit of rage Sandie Craddock, an East London barmaid with 45 prior convictions, stabbed a fellow barmaid three times through the heart ( Regina v. Craddock, 1981, 1 C.L. 49; see also Apodaca & Fink, 1984; Carney & Williams, 1983). Christine English, after a quarrel with her lover, crushed him to death against a utility pole with her car (Regina v. English, an unreported decision of the Norwich Crown Court on November 10, 1981; see also Apodaca & Fink, 1984, p. 54; Carney & Williams, 1983, p. 261). With the aid of testimony by Dr. Katharina Dalton, the world’s most prominent advocate for PMS victims, each woman was convicted only of manslaughter due to PMS-diminished responsibility. Most remarkably, neither woman was punished for her killing: Craddock received probation; English, a 12-month conditional discharge with a driving ban. About a year after her conviction, Craddock (now Smith) was re-arrested for an equivocal attempt to murder a policeman; convicted on three new charges, Smith again argued PMS to mitigate her sentence and again received probation. These judgments were approved on appeal. According to magazine stories and Dalton (see her chapter, this volume), Craddock and English are only two of the many British and Canadian defendants to reduce their criminal responsibility by pleading PMS.


Criminal Responsibility Premenstrual Syndrome Expert Testimony Premenstrual Symptom Model Penal Code 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Boorse
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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