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- Important because of the rules M’Naughton set when parliament asked the reason why they allowed him to get this defence.
- This identified three elements of insanity which all have to be proven for D to get the defence. These are defect of reason, disease of the mind and not knowing the quality of their act or if they did do they didn’t know it was wrong
R v Clarke 1972
- D was in a supermarket and she put three items from her basket into her bag before she got to the checkout.
- D was caught and charged with theft but she said it was in a moment of absent mindedness.
- The Court of Appeal (CA) tells us that the D must have completely lost the ability to reason at the time they committed the crime, showing this defence is not available if the D still has the power of reason but didn’t use it.
- Clarke was convicted as defect of reason had to be more than mere absent mindedness or confusion.
R v Kempt 1957.
- D suffered from a hardening of the arteries affect the flow of blood to the brain.
- This caused a temporary loss of consciousness and attacked his wife.
- This case made it clear that the disease of any part of the body which ‘affects’ the mind would be included in the term ‘disease of the mind’.
- However it has to be cause by an internal factor from within the body rather than an external factor
R v Sullivan
- D suffered from epilepsy and injured a neighbour however he has a history of being aggressive to those helping him with he having a fit.
- D was given the defence of insanity because it was an internal factor which resulted in violence.
- The judge referred to a continuing danger theory in reaching the decision of insanity and explained that automatism (non-insane) should be kept for ‘features of novelty or accident’ showing automatism is only for people where there is no risk of reoccurrence.
In Hennessy 1989
- D was a diabetic who had not taken his insulin for days and drove a car not knowing what he was doing as his blood sugar was too high so was hyper glycaemic.
- He was charged with a driving offence and tried to raise automatism but the court held that it was insanity because has defect of reason was cause by a disease of diabetes had affect his mind.
- This was an internal cause and therefore the defence was insanity not automatism.
- D was a diabetic who had took his insulin but didn’t eat leading to him have low blood sugar (hypo glycaemic)
- He raised the defence of automatism as he
- had physically assaulted his victim.
- The trail judge raised the defence of insanity and was convicted.
- However he appealed and his conviction was quashed as his brain has been affect by an external factor (the insulin) so the proper
- defence was automatism.
- ** he has previously done it many times before - continuing danger theory?
- D was a sleepwalker who attacked his friend with a wine bottle and a video recorder.
- The disease was caused by an internal factor so therefore it was insanity rather than automatism which is caused by an external factor.
- Even when sleepwalking is caused by the usual stresses and strains of life it is an
- internal factor.
- This moves away from Lord Denning’s definition of automatism in Bratty.
- The D has killed and attempted to kill someone else whilst asleep.
- The supreme court of Canada gave him the defence of automatism as the evidence showed it was just a sleep disorder not a medical condition.
- Also aggressive sleepwalking was rare and almost never repeated.
- D thought she was cutting bread but it turned out to be her husband’s throat.
- She was asleep
- D killed his wife with aspirin and raised the question of mental illness.
- However when arrested he has said ‘I suppose they will hang me for this’.
- The decision of this case showed that in the English legal system it means legally wrong.
- D killed his girlfriend with her stocking allegedly whilst having an epileptic episode.
- In this case the CA and House of Lords (HL) said that the correct defence was insanity but it defined the defence of insanity which was that there must be a complete loss of control which is voluntary as the mind is not in control of what is happening showing the crime was caused by an external factor.
- Common law defence existed for over 150 yrs.
- General defence available to all crimes , inclu murder, but not SL.
- It’s concerned with the MR of the defendant and the fact that the defendant did not have the mental capacity to be held fully liable for the offence. Judged incapable of forming the required MR.
- Def or judge can raise it. Def has to prove it (AO2), jury decides if its available.
- Medical reports from 2 med experts (at least one must specialise in mental health/psychiatry)
- Over the following years it was up to the courts (through case law) to interpret and explain how the rules applied.
- Rules/elements of insanity come from the case of M’Naghtan (1843)
- HL gave guidance (rules) about defence of insanity.
- 2 main rules: (1) everyone presumed sane till proved otherwise
- (2) that at the material time, D was labouring under defect of reason, caused by a disease of the mind, so as to not know nature & quality of the act or if they did know they didn’t know that it was wrong.
Effect of Insanity defense
- Effect: Verdict given is special verdict “not guilty by reason of insanity”, which opens a range of sentencing options.
- In past the special verdict only lead to a sentence to “an indefinite term in a secure mental institution” only to be released at the discretion of the secretary of state.
- This resulted in many pleading guilty to the offence rather than face this sentence (if judge raised the defence).
- However the defence was significantly improved in 1991 when the sentencing options following a special verdict were changed to include :discharge, hospital, treatment, supervision and guardianship orders.
- However if D has committed murder the only sentencing option remains indefinite term in secure hospital. In cases of murder the defence has largely been replaced by the defence of DR (wider range of sentencing options)
Element/Requirement 1: Defect of Reason
- Courts interpreted this in Clarke (1972) by the CA said… More than mere absentmindedness.
- Has to be a complete loss of the powers/ ability to reason. Its not having powers but choosing not to use them.
- AO2:- Right/fair/just- we should only impose/allow the defence on those who truly don’t know what they are doing or don’t know that its wrong
Element /Requirement 2: Disease of the Mind
- Disease of the mind is not disease of the brain. It includes any organic/physic disease of psychological disease which affects the mind ( it includes those which will affect D’s powers of memory, reason and understanding). Sullivan
- The disease of the mind does not have to be permanent : it can be a temporary or transitory state (just must be present at the time D commits the offence). It includes conditions such as epilepsy and those in hypo and hyper glycaemic states (diabetes)-Bratty and Sullivan (epileptics) and Hennessey (diabetes)
- A case which shows that it does not have to be a psychological illness is Kemp (arteriosclerosis/hardening of the arteries)
Internal/external factor approach
- The courts now adopt the approach that the disease has to have an internal factor. If its an external factor the appropriate defence is (non insane) automatism.
- Cases which show this are Hennessey( internal factor). Contrasts with Quick cause by external factor (drug)= automatism
- Burgess – sleepwalker. Originally thought that sleepwalking was automatism but more recently (1991) the courts have said that sleepwalking is caused by an internal factor (normal stresses and strains of life) and is insanity.
- AO2:- Courts did consider using a continuing danger theory when deciding if the defence was available (Sullivan- Denning) but not keen. It’s the internal/external theory used.
Element 3: Not knowing the nature or quality of their act/ or if they did know, they didn’t know that it was wrong .
- (1)- People who don’t know what they are doing are usually people having delusions - Codere (1916)
- (2)- Unclear from the original guidance what “wrong “ meant (legally/morally?). The case of Windle (1952) told us that in English law it means legally wrong.
- Johnson (recent case) CA highly critical of the current law. Said legally wrong is unfair but wouldn’t change it. Matter for Parliament
- AO2: People like Mr Byrne who know what they are doing but cant control urges don’t get the defence
- Rules outdate: Date back to 1843: medicine , treatment and society’s views of mental
- health issues moved on significantly.
- Internal/external factor theory: Courts adopted anomalous distinction between what is insanity and automatism based on internal and external factor theory. Can be seen in Quick and Hennessy
- Labelling people with common and now treatable/manageable conditions (such as epileptics (1/133 in UK), sleepwalkers (18% of population) and diabetes (over 1.4 million in UK)
- Burden of proof: unfair and goes against principles of crim law and human rights legislation to expect the def (who is unwell) to prove their own innocence.
- Stigma/label: There’s stigmatism in labelling someone as “insane”:outdated terminology
- Jury: left to interpret complex medical matters and terminology
- Medical reports: Wrong to have availability turning on the word or views of doctors rather than legal points.
- Jury’s reaction to medical evidence and the defence can be driven by emotion and gut reaction.
- Jury convicted Yorkshire Ripper of M despite fact that he was clearly suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
- Calls for reform over the years. Highly criticised by Law Commission and Butler Committee 1975.
- Proposals include abolish the M’N rules. Change verdict to “not guilty by reason of mental disorder. Some say deal with outside crim justice system (are ill)
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