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Insanity
Introduction

Consider for a moment, whether someone who is suffering from an epileptic fit should be held responsible for a
battery, if ­ for example ­ they hit someone as their fit takes place. Common sense would dictate not. They are not in
control of their actions and therefore…

Page 2

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The Special Verdict and Murder

When the defendant is found insane in relation to a murder charge, the verdict is not guilty of murder by reason of
insanity. The defendant must be hospitalised indefinitely.


Defect of Reason

The defect of reason must be more than absent-mindedness or confusion and must…

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The disease can be one which causes a transient or intermittent impairment of reason, memory or understanding. The
condition need not be permanent.

Sullivan (1984)
D kicked and injured an 80 year old during an epileptic attack. Medical evidence showed that D was
unaware of what was happening.
HL ruled…

Page 4

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· There is a crossover between the legal and medical definitions of insanity. It can be seen as unfair that
someone suffering from irresistible impulses who are psychopaths are not covered by the M'Naghten rules,
but physical illnesses such as diabetes and epilepsy can be tarred with the stigma. (Byrne…

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