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Cases - defences - insanity

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Antoine (Pierre Harrison), R v  (2000) HL

Attorney General's Reference (No3 of 1998) [2000] CA

Bailey, R v (1983) CA

Burgess, R v (1991) CA

Egan, R v [1998] CA

H, R v [2003] HL

Harper, DPP v (1997) QBD

Hennessy, R v  (1989) CA

Kemp, R v (1957) Devlin J, Bristol Assizes

Pinochet, R v  (1999) HL

Quick, R v (1973) CA

T, R v  (1990) Snaresbrook Crown Court

Rabey, R v  (1997) Ontario Appeal Court

Sullivan, R v  (1983) HL

Windle, R v  (1952) CA

 

Other cases at the MHI

 

Antoine (Pierre Harrison), R v  (2000) HL

 

Red triangle indicating important case.

[Insanity - fitness to plead - diminished responsibility cannot be raised at beginning of trial - murder]

D aged 16 (with another youth) murdered a 15 year old boy as a sacrifice to the devil. At the beginning of his trial was not allowed to raise a defence of diminished responsibility – not insanity - under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act.

He was found unfit to plead to murder by reason of his mental disability and the jury went on to find that D had committed the act of murder.

 

Held: The jury need only be satisfied of the actus reus of the offence, the prosecution were not required to prove the mens rea, and therefore the defence of diminished responsibility could not apply to the hearing under Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act.

 

If there is objective evidence which raises the issue of mistake or accident or self-defence, then the jury should not find that the defendant did the ‘act’

 

Appeal dismissed.

Attorney General's Reference (No3 of 1998) [2000] CA

Whole case, here

[Insanity - "did the act or made the omission charged" does not require proof of mens rea]
D broke into a house with a light on to protect himself from evil, believing he was Jesus Christ.  D was armed with a snooker cue, smashed open the front door and forced entry. He was insane on the night, and so could not form any intent; but was fit to stand trial. The trial judge wrongly followed R v Egan [1998] and ruled that the Crown had to prove mens rea, which of course they could not. He therefore directed the jury to acquit.

Held: The judge was wrong. Whether ‘the defendant did the act or made the omission charged’ (Trial of Lunatics Act 1883) required the Crown to prove the ingredients which constituted the actus reus of the crime, but not the mens rea. Accordingly, the defendant’s state of mind would cease to be relevant.

Not guilty because of judge's ruling

Bailey, R v (1983) CA

 

Red triangle indicating important case.

[Insanity - automatism - self-induced - available for specific or basic intent in some circumstances]
D seriously injured his ex-girlfriend’s new partner with an iron bar. He said assaulted the partner to teach him a lesson for associating with the girl

D, a diabetic took insulin and drank some sugared water but he had nothing to eat. D claimed he acted in a state of automatism caused by hypoglycaemia.  He did not complicate the issue with alcohol or drugs.

 

Held: Automatism, even if self-induced could provide a defence to a crime of basic intent crime (unless caused by intoxication).  What must be considered is whether D, in view of his knowledge of the likely results of his actions, was sufficiently reckless. It was not necessarily reckless to fail to take food after a dose of insulin.

 

Guilty although non-insane (self-induced) automatism, no injustice at trial.

Burgess, R v (1991) CA

^[Violence whilst sleepwalking is insanity] 
D wounded a female neighbour friend whilst sleepwalking. They had been watching videos and she fell asleep on the sofa, he hit her with a bottle and a video recorder and grabbed her round the throat.  He was sleepwalking at the time. 

 

Held: Internal cause, therefore disease of mind. 
Sleep is normal (medically) and sleepwalking not regarded as mental disorder, but violence whilst sleepwalking is abnormal. It is a disease of the mind caused by internal factors.  This condition was transitory and unlikely to recur, but a functional or organic internal cause.

 

Not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Egan, R v [1998] CA

^[Insanity - mens rea not relevant]
D snatched a handbag from a woman on a train.  He was found unfit to plead.  An admission order to hospital was made even though mens rea could not be proved.

Held: The sole issue raised for the jury's consideration was the identity of the bag snatcher.  The full Ghosh direction was unnecessary where the defendant did not raise the issue of whether he thought his conduct was dishonest or not.
Disapproved in Antoine

Harper, DPP v  (1997) QBD

 

^[Insanity defence not available for strict liability offences]

D drove his Chevrolet whilst over the limit for drink driving.

 

Held: Insanity is only valid defence to an offence requiring mens rea. Driving with excess alcohol is not such an offence.

 

Guilty: Remitted to the justices to convict.

H, R v [2003] HL ^[Insanity unfitness procedure not contrary to HR Convention]
D aged 13 indecently assaulted a 14 year old girl.  The first jury found him unfit to stand trial (s 4 of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964); the second jury found he had done the acts charged (s 4A of the Act). 

Held: The finding of the second jury, (4A) was not incompatible with art 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, simply because he could not give instructions and participate fully in his defence.

S4A provided that the basic facts against D, shorn of issues concerning intent, should be investigated in open court with counsel representing their interests. S4A procedure was not to decide whether the accused person had committed a criminal offence, and could result in acquittal but not in a conviction or punishment. If it led to a hospital order, there could be a full criminal trial if the accused person recovered. It was difficult if not impossible to conceive of a criminal proceeding culminating in the imposition of any penalty.

Appeal dismissed absolute discharge confirmed

Hennessy, R v  (1989) CA

 

Red triangle indicating important case.

^[Insanity - distinguishing between insanity and automatism - internal factors caused by external influences are insanity] 
D, a diabetic, took a car without consent and drove whilst disqualified. Had not taken insulin because of stress anxiety and depression. 

 

Held: Not taking insulin - leading to hyperglycaemia is insanity.  And it is insanity either alone or together with the stress anxiety and depression. It is not automatism.

Stress and anxiety are neither unique nor accidental factors but constituted a state of mind which was prone to recur.
D was not suffering from automatism.

 

Guilty cf Quick

Kemp, R v (1957) Devlin J, Bristol Assizes

[Insanity - arteriosclerosis]

D an elderly man suffered with arteriosclerosis caused unconsciousness, attacked wife with hammer during the night.

 

Held:  Hardening of the arteries may cause damage to the brain cells which may be a "disease of the mind" but the physical state of brain irrelevant, it is whether the mental faculties of reason, memory and understanding are impaired or absent; in this case it was the flow of blood that affected the mind, not destruction of brain cells.

Devlin J "That may be a matter of importance medically, but it is of no importance to the law, which merely has to consider the state of mind in which the accused is, not how he got there."

 “...mind in the M’Naghten Rules is used in the ordinary sense of the mental faculties of reason, memory and understanding...”.

D was unaware of his actions during a 'blackout' caused by a disease of the body that affected the mind.

Per curiam: The condition of the brain, whether the defect of reason is transient or permanent or whether it is curable, is irrelevant.

 

Guilty but insane (the old special verdict)

Pinochet, R v  (1999) HL

[Insanity - fitness to stand trial]

D a former Chilean dictator faced extradition to Spain for murder and torture.

 

Held: Insane, not extradited but returned to Chile

Quick, R v (1973) CA

 

Red triangle indicating important case.

[Insanity - automatism - an external factor is required]

D, a nurse, assaulted a patient. He was a diabetic, had taken insulin and not eaten sufficient food. He drank whisky and rum he could not remember the assault. He pleaded automatism.

 

Held: D was suffering from automatism, which is a mental abnormality caused by an external factor. He was not suffering from insanity caused by hypoglycaemia (low sugar in the blood) by taking insulin prescribed by his doctor.  [Distinguished from hyperglycaemia high blood sugar occurring naturally, which would be insanity]

 Lawton LJ:

'a self-induced incapacity will not excuse ... nor will one which could have been reasonably foreseen as a result of either doing or omitting to do something, for example, taking alcohol against medical advice after using certain prescribed drugs or failing to have regular meals while taking insulin.'

Not guilty

Distinguished: R v Bailey

T, R v  (1990) Snaresbrook Crown Court

 

[External cause such as rape is sufficient to establish automatism]

D committed robbery and assault with two others. D was acting as though in a dream.

 

Held: Evidence of a disassociative state resulting from something qualitatively different to the ordinary stresses of life – in this case rape - would indicate an external cause.  The jury nevertheless convicted.

 

Guilty

Rabey, R v  (1997) Ontario Appeal Court

[Defences - insanity - disease of the mind - disassociative state]
D was rejected by a girlfriend and so he battered her. He argued that this was an external cause. (A Canadian case.)

 

Held: that a "disassociative state"; resulting from 

'... the ordinary stresses and disappointments of life which are the common lot of mankind...’ 

...did not amount to an external cause. 
It follows that evidence of such a "disassociative state" would indicate a disease of the mind.

 

Guilty

Sullivan, R v  (1983) HL

 

Red triangle indicating important case.

^[Insanity - epilepsy is insanity, not automatism]

D kicked an 86 yr old neighbour – for whom he customarily did acts of kindness - in the head and body while having epileptic fit.

 

Held: Epilepsy is insanity, (not automatism) it affects the mind, not an external cause such as drugs or alcohol.

 

A defence of non-insane automatism, for which the proper verdict would be a verdict of not guilty, might be available in cases where temporary impairment of the mental faculties, not being self-induced by drink or drugs, results from some external factor such as a blow to the head causing concussion.

 

Guilty

Comment: On his conviction, a probation order, with medical supervision, represented an altogether more advantageous outcome than the order which the court would have been obliged to make if the defence of insanity had been established

Windle, R v  (1952) CA

^[Insanity - doing wrong means legally, not morally wrong]

D killed his insane wife who was always threatening suicide. He killed her with 100 aspirin.  He said “I suppose they will hang me for this?” indicating he knew it was legally wrong, whereas he thought it was morally right.

 

Held: Knowledge that an act is ‘wrong’ means legally not morally wrong. Killing terminally ill spouse may be morally justified but is criminal offence. Claimed he had communicative insanity (folie a deux).

 

Guilty (sentence of death upheld)

Comment: Diminished responsibility could now be argued in such cases. 

The ratio in Windle has been doubted in R v Dean Johnson (2007) EWCA Crim 1978.  The High Court of Australia in R v Stapleton (1952) 86 CLR 358 refused to follow Windle.

 

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