Insanity

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  • Insanity
    • M'Naghten (1843: D suffered from extreme paranoia. He thought he was being persecuted by the government and tried to kill Sir Robert Peel, but instead killed his secretary. Due to his mental state he was found not guilty of Murder.
      • The fact that he could not be found guilty caused an outroar, and meant the House of Lords answered a series of questions on the law of insanity which provide the basis for the law today.
      • "The D must be labouring under such a defect of reason from a disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong."
        • The fact that he could not be found guilty caused an outroar, and meant the House of Lords answered a series of questions on the law of insanity which provide the basis for the law today.
    • 1, Defect of Reason
      • Clarke (1972): D went into a supermarket, picked up three items including a jar of mincemeat, put them into her own bag and left. Charged with theft, but said she lacked the mens rea cause she didn't remember. Absent mindedness. Judge said insanity so she appealed.
        • CA quashed the conviction and said that 'defect of reason', only applies to persons who have a disease of the mind which affects their powers to reason. Absent mindedness doesn't count.
    • 2. Disease of the mind
      • Kemp (1956): D suffered from hardening of the arteries which caused a blackout where he attacked his wife with a hammer. Charged with S.20
        • Was found not guilty by reason of insanity and appealed. CA upheld condition saying that law was not concerned with the brain but the mind.
      • Sullivan (1984): D had an epileptic fit and hit an old man. Judge said insanity so he pleaded guilty and appealed.
        • HL ruled that the source of the disease was irrelevant, provided that it existed at the time the D did the act.
      • Henessy (1989): D was diabetic who had not taken his insulin. He stole a car and drove it but did not remember. Judge said insanity so he pleaded guilty.
        • Quick (1973): D was a diabetic but had taken too much insulin. He assaulted one of his patients.
          • 2. Disease of the mind
            • Kemp (1956): D suffered from hardening of the arteries which caused a blackout where he attacked his wife with a hammer. Charged with S.20
              • Was found not guilty by reason of insanity and appealed. CA upheld condition saying that law was not concerned with the brain but the mind.
            • Sullivan (1984): D had an epileptic fit and hit an old man. Judge said insanity so he pleaded guilty and appealed.
              • HL ruled that the source of the disease was irrelevant, provided that it existed at the time the D did the act.
            • Henessy (1989): D was diabetic who had not taken his insulin. He stole a car and drove it but did not remember. Judge said insanity so he pleaded guilty.
              • Quick (1973): D was a diabetic but had taken too much insulin. He assaulted one of his patients.
                • Court held that this did not come under the definition of insanity because insulin was an external factor so he could rely on automatism instead.
              • Appeal was dismissed, his state was caused by the internal factor of diabetes  not because of the insulin.
            • Burgess (1991): D and his girlfriend fell asleep, and D whilst sleep walking attacked her.
              • No evidence of external cause of sleepwalking so it was caused internally therefore insanity. CA upheld.
          • Court held that this did not come under the definition of insanity because insulin was an external factor so he could rely on automatism instead.
        • Appeal was dismissed, his state was caused by the internal factor of diabetes  not because of the insulin.
      • Burgess (1991): D and his girlfriend fell asleep, and D whilst sleep walking attacked her.
        • No evidence of external cause of sleepwalking so it was caused internally therefore insanity. CA upheld.
    • 3. Nature and Quality of the Act.
      • Oye (2013): D was behaving oddly, was arrested by police and at police station he assaulted a police officer. Charged with ABH.
        • D said he acted the way he did because he thought the police were demons, and medical evidence showed that he had had a psychotic episode. Despite this he was convicted but the CA replaced a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.
    • 4. The D did not know that it was wrong.
      • Windle (1952): D's wife constantly spoke of committing suicide. One day he killed her through an overdose. He gave himself up and said to the police "I suppose they will hang me for this"
        • These words showed he knew what he had done was wrong, as a result he could not use the defence of insanity.

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