Case Studies:Insanity 1

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  • Case Studies- Insanity 1:
    • Unfitness to plead
      • R v Pritchard (1836)
        • D was deaf and mute
        • Test to apply in deciding fitness to plead:
        • Is the prisoner mute of malice or not
        • Can he plead to the indictment or not
        • Is he of sufficient intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings in the trial as to make a proper defence
        • To know that he might challenge anyone whom he may object
        • Can he comprehend the details of the evidence, which in a case of this nature must constitute a minute investigation
      • Criticisms of Unfitness to please- Results in exclusion
        • R v Padola (1960)- loss of memory about events did not qualify
        • R v Sharp (1957)- illiterate deaf mute who could communicate with the court was  deemed unfit
    • 1. Must suffer from a defect of reason
      • R v Clarke (1972)
        • Mrs Clarke (58) absent-mindedly placed some items in her bag while shopping. She had no recollection of doing so
        • Medical evidence: she was suffering with depression and was diabetic. Judge ruled that this raised defence of insanity
        • Clarke changed plea to guilty and appealed against judge's finding of insanity
        • Held: short periods of absent-mindedness fall short of amounting to defect of reason
    • 2. Defect of reason must be caused by disease of the mind
      • Sullivan (1984)- Epilepsy
      • Hennessy (1989)- Diabetes
      • Burgess (1991)- Sleepwalking
      • R v Kemp (1957)
        • Husband (usually good character) made motiveless and irrational violent attack on wife with hammer, causing GBH
        • He suffered from hardening of the arteries which led to congestion of blood in the brain. Causes temporary lack of consciousness- he wasn't conscious he picked up hammer or striking wife
        • Sought defence to raise automatism.
        • Held: hardening of arteries was "disease of mind" within M'Naghten Rules and he could not use defence of automatism
      • R v Quick (1973)
        • Appellant charged with assault occasioning ABH under s.47 OAPA 1861
        • Attacked a patient while on duty- paraplegic and suffered black eyes, fractured nose, bruising
        • Sought to raise defence of automatism- at the time he was hypoglycemic (taken too much insulin and not eaten enough). Also consumed alcohol
        • Appellant= charge nurse in hospital
        • Judge: gave rise to insanity not automatism. D changed plea to guilty and appealed
        • Held: appeal allowed and conviction quashed. Hypoglycemia caused by external factor of insulin not diabetes
    • 3. Disease of mind must cause failure to know nature and quality of act OR D knew it was wrong
      • Nature and Quality
        • R v Codere (1916)
          • Appellant convicted of murder. Sought to rely on defence of insanity, however at the time of the killing he knew it was unlawful to kill
          • Held: not able to rely on defence of insanity
      • Did not know it was wrong
        • Windle (1952)


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