Criminal Defences I

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  • Defences
    • Justification
      • D's conduct is socially permissable
      • Necessity
        • Self-defence (public/private defence)
    • Excuses
      • Conduct is unlawful but D is excused (human frailty)
      • Involuntary behaviour (actus reus)
        • Automatism (mens rea)
          • DR + age
            • Mistake
              • Intoxication
                • Duress/duress of circumstances
                  • Complete excuse (acquittal)
          • Complete excuse (murder - acquit)
            • Involuntary behaviour stemming from mental abnormality
              • Lord Denning: no act is punishable if done involuntarily (Bratty)
                • Bratty: automatism means an act which is done by the muscles without any control by the mind such as a spasm...
                  • Bratty: or an act done by a person not conscious of what he is doing - act done during concussion or whilst sleepwalking
                    • Diabetic hypoglycaemia (Quick and Paddison)[1973]
                      • Post-traumatic stress disorder (R v T)
                        • Epileptic fit (Cox v Rawlinson)
                          • Side-effects of medically prescribed drugs (R v Huckerby)
                            • Confusional arousal (Lowe)
                              • Killed father who woke him, coming out of sleep but still unaware of what he was doing
                                • Burgess approach - sleepwalking indicative of underlying mental abnormality even if external factor as sleepwalking was driving force was behind attack
                                  • Confusional arousal state - external
                                    • Thomas - D strangled wife when awoken from nightmare
                          • ....and sleepwalking - treated as insanity (insane automatism) - internal
                          • Accepted that epilepsy could allow defence of automatism where effect of fit was to disable drive from avoiding a crash - lack of control not mental confusion was cause of accident
                        • T was relying on symptoms of depression - internal = insanity. However, medical evidence - caused by external trauma
                          • She knew what she was doing but it was if she was acting in a dream (insensitive to implications)
                      • Nurse attacked patient whilst suffering hypoglycaemia from taking insulin (s.47)
                      • Lawton LJ: must be an EXTERNAL factor
                        • Not every external factor works - has to be extraordinary
                          • Rabey (Canadian case) - D gilted by gf, traumatized. Unable to rely on mental disassociation (as in R v T) - because this external factor was in the realm of ordinary
                            • If court concludes this but medical evidence shows D is mentally disassociated = insane automatism (Hennessy)
            • Can negate intention/foresight needed for crimes of violence, theft, criminal damages (R v Clarke)
              • Strict liability offences: strict - need to have a total absence of conscious control (Stripp (1978))
                • Broome v Perkins [1987] D, diabetic, partial loss of consciousness having taken insulin - mind disassociated with mental processes of driving car but still able to do mechanical functions (actually drive) - could not rely on defence
                • A-G's Ref (No 2 of 1992): D, lorry driver, charged with death by dangerous driving - raised automatism, trance caused by repetitive visual stimuli - medical condition - jury acquitted, CA - did not entirely remove voluntary control
          • Can be no prior fault
            • Lipman [1969] D ingested LSD, killed gf thinking he was being attacked by snakes - condition was self-induced
            • Quick - D sustained hypoglycaemic attack as did not maintain his own blood sugar levels (NB. did not affect defence as not given to jury)
        • Insanity
          • Excused if only at the time D was not aware of what he was doing and its significance and knew it was legally wrong. Lack of understanding awareness must be due to defect of reason caused by disease of the mind
            • M'Naghten's test (1843)
              • Disease of mind separates insanity from automatism
                • If no disease of mind then insane automatism
                  • 1) defect of cognition (does not understand nature/quality of acts)
                    • 2) caused by defect of reason (understanding/awareness)
                      • 3) due to disease of mind
                    • To be legally sane someone has to know the nature of what he is doing (Codere (1917))
                      • People v Wetmore - theft - D believed she was Queen of England and so owned all property/allowed to appropriate as tribute - insane
              • Legal test
                • Windle/Codere test - D must know that it is legally wrong not morally wrong
                  • Johnson [2007] CA affirmed Windle
            • Delusions: only excuse liability where D acts 'lawfully'
              • e.g. D thinks B is about to rape her + kills him in self-defence (acquitted)
                • e.g. D thinks B raped her and kills him in revenge (guilty - partial defence DR)
            • Disease of mind - legal not medical
              • (1) Kemp [1957] - leading authority
                • Devlin J ruled that a disease of the mind does not involve a disease of brain
                • Facts: D due to black out from arteriosclerosis killed wife
                  • Devlin: condition of brain; whether condition is curable or not; transitory or permanent is irrelevant
                • (2) Bratty [1963] D strangled girl - weak medical evidence for automatism
                  • If jury believed that he blacked out and did not know what he was doing then insanity not automatism (HL)
                    • Denning: what makes a person insane by M'Naghten rules is not nature of their condition (which manifests itself in violence) but that he may represent a danger to society and so need specialised treatment and not an unqualified acquittal
                      • Limits scope of Kemp - leaves automatism to those whose condition is temporary and unlikely to recurrently manifest itself in violence
                        • Permanence suggests insanity
                          • Bratty - suggested any permanent condition = insanity (epilepsy, diabetes)
                            • (3) Quick - Lawton LJ looked at external/internal factors - if conditions only recur if D allows them to then there is an option to convict (not just to acquit or special verdict)
                              • Appropriate where automatism is self-induced
                                • (4) Sullivan HL adopted Kemp not Bratty or Quick
                                  • Burgess - D beat gf whilst sleepwalking. Judge supported insanity plea not automatism (sleepwalking - internal - heredity)
                                    • Internal/external
                                      • Hennessy - D failed to take insulin, conduct due to external causes (leading to depression - similar to R v T but relied on everyday external causes) court said these were not abnormal (Rabey)
        • If D could not have acted otherwise than he did
        • D suffers heart attack and runs a red light - strict liability - but this negates actus reus - D was behind the wheel but was not driving
          • Hill v Baxter [1958] Lord Goddard - if a driver has a stroke or such behind the wheel = Act of God - in this state of unconsciousness cannot be said D is driving
            • Hill v Baxter -- involuntary movement where a blow from a stone or an attack from a swarm of bees -- novus actus interveniens
              • The cause of the event is not the bodily movement of D but is the event which caused this movement - no actus reus from D
          • Not limited to something affecting D's body - also events leading from the activity
            • e.g. Brake Failure (Burns v Bidder [1967])
              • A runaway car cannot be driven - Salmon J in Spurge [1961]
        • Basis of excuse is a lack of authorship
          • Must be no prior fault if the responsibility of harmful event is not to be attributed to D
            • e.g. Brakes not working because D did not service them
              • Conduct is treated as voluntary even if involuntary where D had fair opportunity to act responsibly and did not (Larsonneur/Winzar)
                • Kay v Butterworth - D fell asleep at wheel as did not take sufficient rests
  • Diabetes
    • Hyperglycaemia (high blood pressure) + hypoglycaemia (low) both caused by external factors
      • Can dispose to violence and other irrational behaviour
        • A person disposed to body overproducing insulin (internal) may be legally insane/person where condition can lead to insulin oversoe (external) sane

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