Insanity Cases

~ Here's all the important cases to do with the defence of insanity
~ I've only used dates of cases when the case is important - otherwise it's far too much to remember!!

If you have any questions or can see that I've done anything wrong, please let me know :)

D = the defendant
V = the victim

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D is accused of drink driving and diagnosed with manic depressive psychosis.

Magistrates Court aquitted D on reason of insanity.

Prosecution appealed - D should have been found guilty as it was a strict liability offence.

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R v M'Naghten (1843)

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D became obsessed with the Prime Minister (PM) and felt persecuted by him.

D attempted to assassinate the PM but killed someone else instead.

Medical checks found that D suffered extreme paranoia and lived in a world of delusions.

D was allowed the defence.

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R v Clarke

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D was accused of shoplifting and said she forgot to pay.

She suffered from diabetes and depression.

D was charged with theft.

The judge raised insanity, and D pleaded guilty.

The conviction was quashed on appeal.

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R v Kemp

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D hit his wife on the head with a hammer, causing her GBH, whilst he had blacked out.

D suffered from arteriosclerosis and argued automatism.

The court said that arteriosclerosis was a disease of the mind as it affected D's mind.

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R v Hennessy

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D was charged with taking a motor vehicle without consent and driving while disqualified.

D hadn't taken his insulin for 3 days and was suffering from a hyperglycaemic episode when he was seen getting into a stolen car and driving off.

The trial judge raised insanity so D pleaded guilty.

This was upheld on appeal.

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R v Quick

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D was a nurse at a mental hospital.

He took his insulin but didn't eat much.

D attacked a patient causing injuries after suffering a hypoglycaemic episode.

His conviction was quashed as he got the defence of automatism.

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R v Sullivan

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D was known to have fits and show aggression to anyone trying to help him.

He was in his neighbour's flat, and the next thing he remembered was his friend injured on the floor.

D was charged with assault.

The judge said that a plea of automatism on epileptic seizures amounted to a disease of the mind.

D pleaded guilty.

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R v Bratty (1963)

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D killed an 18 year-old by removing one of her stockings and strangling her with it.

He claimed it happened during an epileptic seizure.

The House of Lords confirmed this amounted to insanity.

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R v Burgess

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D and V were watching videos and fell asleep.

During the night, D hit V across the head with a wine bottle and the video player, and seized her by the throat.

D was charged with unlawful wounding, and pleaded automatism.

The judge raised insanity.

D's appeal was dismissed.

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R v Parks

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D got up in the night and drove 15 miles to the home of his in-laws where he stabbed and killed his mother-in-law and severely injured his father-in-law.

Throughout the whole sequence, D was sleepwalking.

The Canadian court held that sleepwalking didn't impair D's mind because the cause of sleepwalking is the natural condition of sleep.

D was acquitted.

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R v Rabey

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D was rejected by a girl so he hit her with a rock and began to choke her.

He was charged with causing bodily harm.

D pleaded automatism based on dissociation, and was allowed the defence.

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R v T

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D pleaded automatism to robbery and s.47 Offences Against the Person Act (1861).

She had been ***** 3 days earlier.

A psychiatrist said she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and at the time of the offence she suffered a dissociated state.

The judge called automatism to be left to the jury.

D was found guilty.

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R v Falconer

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D shot her husband at point-blank range with a shotgun, killing him instantly.

He had sexually assaulted her and she was told that he was facing charges of incest involving their daughters.

D claimed she could remember nothing until her husband was found dead.

D was convicted of murder.

On appeal, the High Court of Australia held that automatism was available. 

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R v Stone

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D's wife insulted him then he felt a 'whoosh sensation' and stabbed her 47 times.

The judge ruled that, to be allowed automatism, there must be evidence of an extremely shocking trigger.

D was found guilty of manslaughter.

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R v Narborough

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The Court of Appeal felt that post-traumatic stress disorder was not good enough for automatism.

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R v Charlson

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D hit his 10 year-old son with a hammer on the head and threw him into a river. He was charged with GBH and other offences.

Medical evidence suggested he was suffering from a cerebal tumour, which meant he had outbursts of violence that he couldn't control.

The jury acquitted him after the judge directed to consider automatism.

Lord Denning said that the decision was wrong - it should have been insanity.

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R v Windle

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D was unhappily married to a woman 18 years his senior.

D eventually killed her by giving her 100 aspirins.

Medical evidence said he suffered insanity but it was agreed he knew he was acting unlawfully.

D was convicted of murder.

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