Insanity

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  • Insanity
    • definition
      • set by the M'naghten rules (1843)
        • D must be suffering from a defect of reason which has been caused by a disease of the mind
        • D must does not know the nature and quality of his act and that it was wrong
        • must be an internal cause
        • must be proved on balance of probability
      • must be evidence from two medical experts
      • defendant is presumed to be sane
      • insanity no defence to strict liability crimes
        • R v Harper (1997) - driver with excess alcohol
        • no mens rea required
    • Defect of Reason
      • requires an impairment of reasoning
      • Clarke (1972) - stole goods with no recollection of it happening
        • CA held that defect of reason must be more than absent-mindedness or confusion
    • Disease of the mind
      • legal term covers both physical and mental conditions
      • must be internal and exist at the time of the D acted
      • Kemp (1956) - suffering from hardening of the arteries causing blackouts
        • CA held that even though it was a physical disease it affected his mid so was allowed
      • Sullivan (1984) - epileptic who injured elderly neighbour during fit when visiting
        • HL held insanity included any organic or functional disease and it can be temporary
      • Hennessy (1983) - diabetic failed to take insulin and took a car
        • diabetes affected mind and insanity allowed as it was an internal source
      • Quick (1973) - failed to eat after taking insulin
        • external fact so insanity not allowed under M'naghten rules
      • Burgess (1991) - attacked girlfriend while asleep
        • Court held that if cause of sleepwalking was internal then insanity is allowed
    • not knowing the nature and quality of the act and that it was legally wrong
      • may be due to a state of unconsciousness or impaired consciousness
      • may be due to a lack of understanding or awareness due to a mental condition while conscious
      • no defence if D knows that what they are doing is legally wrong, even if they have a mental illness
        • Byrne (1960)
      • Windle (1952) - killed wife with 100 aspirin and said 'I suppose they will hang me for this'
        • not insane as new act was wrong in law
      • Johnson (2007) - paranoid schizophrenic who attacked neighbour
        • not insane as knew what he was doing and that it was legally wrong
    • consequences of insanity verdict
      • before 1991 this resulted in compulsory detention in mental hospital
      • Criminal Procedue (Insanity Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991
        • now replaced by Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004
          • extends sentencing options:
            • hospital order
            • supervision order
            • absolute discharge
            • murder - an indefinite hospital order with Home Secretary giving permission for release

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