Cases & development (chronologically) of the defence of intoxication

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  • Created on: 15-06-11 11:43
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Def based on issues of pol. rather than legal principles
Clashes often occur b/twn the two & pub. pol. usually wins
If D chose to take drink/drugs/intoxicants
Until mid C19th intox. not a def. even if invol. & MR was intention
Bread 1920
Lord Birkenhead; permitted intox. as a def. to murder
Sheehan 1975
A drunken intent is nevertheless an intent
Heard 2007
`the mere fact that the D's mind was affected by drink, so that he acted in a way that he would not have done
had he been sober does not assist him at all, provided that the necc. MR is there'
Bratty 1963
Lord Denning; `if the man is so drunk, that he doesn't know what he is doing, he has a def. to any charge
where intention is the MR, like murder or wounding, but will still be charged w/a con. where no specific intent
is necc. i.e. m/s'
- Both cases above about specific intent crimes
Majewski 1977
Leading case on vol. intox; gives key rule on intox. as a def.
Based on pol. not legal principle
If the offence is a specific intent crime, i.e. MR of intention only; intox. is a def.
D is not acquitted but ay be con. of a lesser crime, i.e. charged w/murder, con. of m/s
Where the crime is one of basic intent, i.e. MR is either intention or recklessness; intox. is not a def. & D con.
D on 36 hr drink & drug binge then assaulted PO & others
Con. of 3 occasions of assault & ABH
D said wasn't able to form Cunningham Recklessness as not aware of consequences of actions
TJ dir. jury to ignore def. of intox. & dec. if had MR when sober
CA & HL upheld con.
Lord Elwyn-Jones; `self induced intox. however gross and even if has prod. sit. of automatism, cannot excuse
crimes of basic intent, like assault'
Lipman 1970
D & g.f took drugs

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D killed her when asleep and tripping then fell asleep & awoke to find her dead
Con. of m/s even though acting as an automaton (not con. of murder, as specific intent crime)
Upon app. CA upheld con.
Lord Diplock; `state of automatism didn't apply when induced by drink or drugs'
Richardson v Irwin 1999
Although intox is not allowed as a def. for basic intent crimes, simply comm. AR when intox. is not enough to
secure con.
D pushed off balcony
TJ dir.…read more

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D depressed as broken up w/g.f & she asked him to leave their flat
Before leaving, he took some of her Valium then later returned to the flat and set fire to the wardrobe
D charged w/arson - basic intent crime but said unaware of action due to the Valium, made agg. rather than
TJ dir. jury to ignore the effect of the intoxicants & con.
CA qu. con.…read more

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Dutch Courage;
AG Ref. for N.Ire v Gallagher 1963
If D gets drunk to summon the courage to comm. a crime, there is no def. even for a specific intent off.
D wanted to kill his wife, so drank to get courage & killed her
Con. of murder & HL upheld upon app.
Matter of pub. pol. so no problem of coincidence of AR & MR
Intox. & Insanity;
Where intox. prod.…read more


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