Intoxication Defence

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Intoxication overview
The only times where intoxication can be used as a defence is where the accused can prove that it led to a disease of the mind (insanity is then the defence); or where s/he was so intoxicated that s/he could not have the necessary mens rea.
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R V Lipman 1969
Lipman and his girlfriend took large quantities of LSD at her flat. He suffered hallucinations and believed that he was descending to the centre of the earth and was being attacked by snakes.
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R V Lipman judgement
The influence of drugs was so strong that Lipman could not have intended to kill his girlfriend, therefore, he could not be guilty of murder. However, the charge was reduced to manslaughter and he was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter
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Basic Intent crimes
, for any crime where recklessness is sufficient mens rea (crimes of basic intent), intoxication will not normally afford a defence, since the taking of excessive quantities of alcohol or drugs is in itself reckless.
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DPP V Majewski 1976
Majewski, whilst under the influence of various drugs and alcohol, performed several assaults including one on a police officer. He pleaded intoxication as his defence claiming that b/c of the effect of the alcohol and drugs he had no recollection
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Public Policy application
The above rule in basic intent crimes is effectively a public policy decision by the courts. Crimes caused as a result of the loss of control through the effects of alcohol and/or drugs have been a considerable problem in society for a long time.
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Non Reckless Intoxication
If the defendant can show that he did not foresee, nor could not have reasonably foreseen, the violent effect of a particular drug, then intoxication may be a defence even to basic intent crimes.
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R V Hardie 1984
Hardie had a quarrel with the woman he was living with and took some of her “valium” tablets to calm himself down. Whilst under the influence of these drugs he set fire to the flat. Hardie’s defence of intoxication was rejected by the trial judge.
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R V Hardie judgement
The Court of Appeal stated that although intoxication was not usually a defence for such a crime, if the drug taken was one that normally calms a person down (as valium does)
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Involuntary intoxication
If a person becomes intoxicated without knowing or suspecting that s/he has become intoxicated (involuntary intoxication), and s/he commits a crime which s/he would not have committed if s/he had not been intoxicated, may be a defence
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R V Kingston 1994
Kingston had paedophilic, homosexual tendencies. Another man, Penn, lured a 15 year old boy into his flat and drugged him. The boy fell asleep. Penn invited Kingston to his flat and gave him a coffee with a drug in it.
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R V Kingston judgment
. If the desire to commit the crime was present at the time of the crime then the mens rea is proved and there is no defence that the drink/drugs ‘caused’ the accused to carry out the crime.
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Dutch courage
Applies in the situation whereby D, having resolved to commit an offence requiring specific intent whilst sober, the deliberately becomes intoxicated in order to provide himself with ‘Dutch couage’ before carrying out the offence.
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Attorney-General for Northern Ireland V Gallagher 1963
Gallagher decided to kill his wife. He obtained a knife and then drank a large quantity of whisky before carrying out the killing. Guilty of murder since his intoxication was brought about after he had formed the intention to kill his wife.
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Mistake and intoxication
law permits a defence of mistake in which the defendant will escape liability where they genuinely believes certain facts to be true and, if they had been, no offence would be committed. However, such a mistake must not be by drugs or alcohol.
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R V O’Grady 1987
O’Grady had got very drunk with a friend and fell asleep. When he awoke the friend was hitting him. He defended himself by hitting his friend several times then fell asleep again. When he awoke he found that his friend was dead. Upheld.
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R V Fotheringham 1989
The appellant had been out drinking. He climbed into bed with the 14 year old babysitter who sleeping in the matrimonial bed. He started to have sexual intercourse with her in the mistaken belief that it was his wife. Upheld.
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Card 2

Front

Lipman and his girlfriend took large quantities of LSD at her flat. He suffered hallucinations and believed that he was descending to the centre of the earth and was being attacked by snakes.

Back

R V Lipman 1969

Card 3

Front

The influence of drugs was so strong that Lipman could not have intended to kill his girlfriend, therefore, he could not be guilty of murder. However, the charge was reduced to manslaughter and he was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

, for any crime where recklessness is sufficient mens rea (crimes of basic intent), intoxication will not normally afford a defence, since the taking of excessive quantities of alcohol or drugs is in itself reckless.

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

Majewski, whilst under the influence of various drugs and alcohol, performed several assaults including one on a police officer. He pleaded intoxication as his defence claiming that b/c of the effect of the alcohol and drugs he had no recollection

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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