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Diminished Responsibility (DR)
Homicide Act 1957
o Amended by Coroners and Justice Act 2009
Defined in s.2(1) Coroners and Justice Act 2009
o "A person who kills or is party to the killing of another is not to be convicted of murder if he was
suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning which:
Arose from a recognized medical condition
Substantially impaired D's ability to: understand nature of conduct / form rational
judgment / exercise self control
Provides an explanation for the D's acts."
Defendant has burden of proof
Abnormality of mental functioning
o Byrne (1960) `A state of mind which the reasonable man would deem abnormal'
o Prior to 2009, `Abnormality of mind'
Recognized medical condition
o Did not have to be a recognized medical condition pre-2009
o Covers both physical and psychological
o E.g. Battered Spouses Syndrome, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Epilepsy, Diabetes
o Byrne (1960) `Left to the jury to decide level of impairment'
o Lloyd (1967) `Does not have to be total impairment but not trivial or minimal either. It should be
somewhere in between, and the jury should decide`
o S.2(1A) Homicide Act 1957 - D must not know the nature of his conduct or he must not be able to form a
rational judgment or he must be unable to use self control
Provides an explanation
o New as of 2009
o There must be a link between killing and abnormality of mental functioning
o No new case law
Diminished Responsibility and Intoxication
o Di Duca (1959) `Intoxication alone cannot support the defence of diminished responsibility'
Immediate effects of alcohol or drugs not a medical condition
o Dietschmann (2003), Hendy 2006, Robson (2006) Intoxication coinciding with a pre existing
abnormality of mental functioning; DR available if the jury can be satisfied that abnormality of mental
functioning cause the D to act in the way he did.
o Intoxication due to addiction/dependency
Alcohol Dependency Syndrome (ADS) A recognized medical condition
Tandy (1989) Drinking was not involuntary, conviction upheld. Did not consider that
ADS was a disease.
Wood (2008) If the D suffered brain damage due to ADS then he could use DR, if not,
the jury must decide whether his drinking was voluntary or not. If it was voluntary, DR not
available. D was convicted, he appealed and conviction was quashed. Judge was wrong
to direct jury to find all alcohol consumption voluntary.
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Stewart (2009) New 3 stage test introduced for D's with ADS.
o 1) Did D have an abnormality of mental functioning?(ADS not automatically
AofMF, seriousness and extent considered)
o 2) Was the abnormality caused by ADS?
o 3) Was D's mental responsibility substantially impaired? (Medical evidence etc.
taken into consideration)
Reform of the Law
o Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide (2006) DR law needed updating to fall in line with medical
terminology. CAJ Act 2009 changed this.
o Burden of proof lies with defendant.…read more