Diminished Responsibility

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  • Diminished Responsibility
    • definition
      • s.2(1) Homicide Act 1957 as ammended by Coroners and Justice Act 2009
        • a person is not be convicted of murder if they suffer from an abnormality of mental functioning
          • arose from a recognised medical condition
          • substantially impair D's ability to
            • understand the nature of his conduct
            • form a rational judgement
            • exercise self control
        • must provide an explanation for D's acts or omissions for doing or being a third party to the killing
          • bought in by Coroners and Justice Act 2009
      • burden of proof on D but only to the standard of a balance of probability
    • Abnormality of mental functioning
      • under the old law defined as
        • a state of mind so different from that of ordinary human beings that the reasonable man would term it abnormal
      • Byrne (1960) - sexual psychopath who strangled and mutilated young woman
        • medical evidence suggested that D could not control perverted desires
    • Cause of abnormality of mental functioning
      • s.2 (1) Homicide Act 1957 must arise from recognised medical condition
        • wide enough to cover both psychological and physical conditions
          • paranoia
          • battered women syndrome
          • epilepsy
      • medical evidence must be given at trial
    • substantially impaired
      • the D ability to do one of 3 things set out in s.2 (1A)
        • under nature of conduct
        • form rational judgement
        • exercise self control
      • Byrne (1960) - CA said that the question of whether the impairment was substantial was one of degree and for jury to decide
      • Lloyd (1967) - held that substantial does not mean total nor does it mean trivial or minimal
        • something in between for jury to decide if D's mental responsibility is impaired
    • provide an explanation for the killing
      • must now be a causal link between abnormality of mental functioning and the killing
      • abnormality must be a significant factor
      • abnormality need not be the only factor
    • Overlap with intoxication
      • simply being intoxicated will not give rise to defence
      • must be an abnormality of mental functioning arising from a recognised medical condition
      • Di Duca (1959) - CA held that a 'transient' state of intoxication is not an abnormality of mental functioning
      • Dietschmann (2003) - D killed man who was disrespectful to memory of his aunt who recently died
        • D suffered from grief-induced adjustment disorder but also drunk
        • HL: if you take away the current alcohol would the accused have an abnormality that caused conduct and resulting death?
        • Hendy (2006) - intoxicated but there was evidence of underlying brain damage and psychopathic disorder
        • Robson (2006) - intoxicated but suffered from an acute stress disorder when killed V
      • Tandy (1989) - alcoholic drunk most of a bottle of vodka and killed daughter who said she had been abused by T's husband
        • CA held that alcohol was an external cause and T had not been injured or drinking it involuntary
      • Wood (2008) - went to flat after heavily drinking and fell asleep. woke to find man trying to perform oral sex on him so killed him with meat cleaver.
        • D suffering from ADS
        • CA quashed conviction as judge was wrong to direct jury that all of D's drinking had to be involuntary


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