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  • Automatism
    • definition
      • Bratty v AG for Northern Ireland (1963) sets definition
        • an act done by the muscles without any control by the mind
          • spasm
          • reflex action
          • a convulsion
          • an act done by someone who is not conscious of what he is doing
            • sleepwalking
            • whilst suffering concussion
      • if successful, leads to acquittal
      • based on D having no control over their movements and no mens rea
      • must be external cause
    • must be an external cause
      • Hill v Baxter (1958) - failed to stop at junction and said remembered nothing
        • courts used earlier judgement of Kay v Butterworth (1945)
          • judge said that a person should not be liable if they became unconscious driving through no fault of their own
          • not be liable if attacked by swarm of bees - obiter dicta
      • T (1990) claimed to be suffering from PTS after being raped and taking part in robbery and assault
        • judge allowed defence to be put to jury but convicted
        • external stress can give rise to defence if sufficiently severe
      • Rabey (1980) - D attacked girl due to stress caused by his rejected advances
        • not automatism, but stress of rejection could be insanity
      • Narborough (2004) - stabbed man and said flashbacks and PTSD due to childhood sexual abuse meant acted like 'zombie'
        • stress not seen as giving rise to automatism
    • must be a loss of control
      • loss of control must be total
      • Isitt (1978) - drove off after accident, avoiding police car and road block
        • no automatism as some control even though evidence of dissociative state
      • AG Ref (NO 2 of 1992) (1993) - lorry driver drove along hard shoulder and killed 2 people, but said was in trance-like-state
        • decided that loss of control must be complete and total
        • you can't use automatism for falling asleep when driving
          • must be completely out of the loop and completely uncontrolled
    • automatism must not be self-induced
      • no automatism if D knows his conduct is likely to bring on an automatic state
      • if the automatism is self-induced and relates to an offence of specific intent then defence may be available
        • for a basic intent offence the necessary mens rea is provided by being reckless in managing a conduct which can lead to automatism
      • exceptions occur where D does not know his act could lead to an automatic state and he has not been reckless
      • Bailey (1983) - diabetic took too much insulin to make himself aggressive towards ex-gf
        • conviction upheld as state self-induced
      • Hardie (1984) - took valium to help him sleep given by friend and set fire to wardrobe
        • allowed to use defence as he had no recollection of act
        • may not have been able to if he had previously used Valium before to make him act strange
    • Reform proposals
      • 1989 Draft Criminal Code Clause 33 - automatism will be available when:
        • there was a reflex action, spasm or convulsion
        • a condition, where of sleep, unconsciousness or otherwise, leads to deprivation of effective control occurring
        • there was an act or condition as a result of nothing done or omitted with the fault required for the offence or intoxication


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