Someone recently bought our

students are currently browsing our notes.


General Defences Notes

GDL Law Notes > GDL Criminal Law Notes

Updates Available  

A more recent version of these General Defences notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Criminal Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

General Defences _______________________________________________________ (See 'Loss of Control' and 'Diminished Responsibility' specific defences under 'Murder & Voluntary Manslaughter')

Automatism An excuse defence - the criminal act was committed but there was no voluntary control of it as to intention (differentiated from mens rea intention - even strict liability acts must have been intended in that they must have been caused by a voluntary movement of muscle) An act must be voluntary and freely willed if it is to constitute actus reus Divided into:
? Insane automatism: o D must prove on the balance of probabilities o Arises out of a disease of the mind
? Non-insane automatism o Evidential burden on D which then P must disprove beyond a reasonable doubt o Arises out of an external cause

Non-insane Automatism R v Ryan: if it was proven that a muscular flinch caused the trigger to be pulled this was a 'reflex action' and liability couldn't be found - though here they found the act voluntary Bratty v AG for NI D strangled his female friend of the family to death whilst giving her a lift. He claimed psychomotor epilepsy removed his volition from his muscular movements Held: it was right not to leave automatism to the jury. There was purposive action behind the seizure movements & this made it an insanity case
? Lord Denning: voluntariness is essential in "every criminal case". An involuntary action will be: o "done by the muscles without any control by the mind, such as a spasm" o "an act done by a person who is not conscious of what he is doing" such as when concussed or sleepwalking

However an act "which has manifested itself in violence" is a disease of the mind AG Ref No. 2 of 1992 HGV driver collision caused 2 deaths. Expert witness evidence that he was in a state known as 'driving without awareness' but that this state retained the ability to move the steering wheel & react to stimuli. The jury acquitted on the basis that this was not voluntary 'driving' Held: (CA) automatism requires complete loss of voluntary control - here the partial involuntariness was not enough AG Ref No. 4 of 2000 Bus driver had accidentally pressed the accelerator killing two pedestrians on a pedestrian island. The break pedals had caused similar issues for other drivers. Trial judge directed verdict of not-guilty as this was not a voluntary act of driving Held: (CA) automatism does not cover the unintentional wrong footing because the driving is still voluntary

Outward factorisation: R v Quick D hypoglycaemic by excessive injection of insulin - ABH Held: non-insane automatism - external factorisation R v Hennessy Hyperglycaemic by failing to take insulin. 2nd 'external factor' raised of stress &
heartache - driving w/o a licence Held: insane automatism - internal factorisation . 2 nd factor rejected as the normal stresses & disappointments of human life are not external factorisations vitiating liability RvT D suffered PTSD as a result of rape Held: should have been left to the jury as the rape was an external factorisation R v Smith PMT raised as automatism Held: could not amount to automatism

Insane Automatism
? Royal Commission on Capital Punishment: this hinges on the fact that it would be 'unreasonable to impute guilt' onto someone completely removed from their senses

? Ronnie Mackay: "insanity and DOM are legal concepts which have little to do with current psychiatric thinking" Mc'Naghten definition of insanity: "such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing" The problem with this, as Ronnie Mackay points out, is that it left no discretion as to hospital order where the judiciary understood 'disease of the mind' widely, including epilepsy.?

Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991 - disposal flexibility Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act - ensures all hospital orders must be compliant with the Mental Health Act i.e. can no longer be given to individuals who do not have a mental disorder defined there

R v Sullivan D kicked a man during epileptic fit Held: insanity was correct as, per Lord Diplock, the purpose of insanity is to prevent the recurrence of dangerous conduct. The fact that the 'insanity' was temporary but recurrent meant it fell within this purpose. It did not need to have manifested itself in violence Bratty v AG for NI (above) R v Burgess D was having a night in with his neighbour and fell asleep. He said he couldn't remember hitting V with a video recorder. Held: (CA) rejected Canadian SC ruling which viewed sleepwalking as non-insane automatism - also rejected Denning's dicta in Bratty. Here it was an internal factorisation & therefore insanity.

Intoxication Distinction between dangerous drugs (alcohol) & soporific drugs (Valium): R v Hardie D taking 'valium like smarties' set fire to wardrobes - charged property damage Held: must be shown D had some knowledge taking such medication might lead to aggressive tendencies - they are of a wholly different kind per Parker LJ

Involuntary intoxication is not automatism where mens rea is apparent:

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our GDL Criminal Law Notes.

More GDL Criminal Law Samples