Crime CLIV-Insanity XI

As we’d mentioned earlier when the defendant’s actions are caused by hyperglycemia or an excess of sugar in the body the defense that is available to the defendant is insanity.

In R v Hennessy (1989) the defendant was arrested while driving a stolen car and was subsequently taken to the police station. The defendant’s wife had just left him and as a result the defendant was depressed and had failed to take his prescribed dose of insulin – the defendant was a diabetic.

The defendant was lethargic, drowsy (symptoms of hyperglycemia) and suffered from temporary memory loss. The defendant could not remember taking the car. The defendant raised the defense of automatism, but the trial judge directed the jury on insanity instead. The defendant was convicted, and the defense appealed.

The appeal was dismissed, and the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge had been correct in his direction. Automatism only arises when the defendant’s actions are caused by external factors and in this instance the defendant’s actions were precipitated by internal or inherent factors i.e. a condition that corresponds with a disease of the mind and hence the correct defense to raise was that of insanity.

It is also worth mentioning that temporary memory loss is not a normal symptom of hyperglycemia, though there may be exceptions, each individual is different, but in most instances, those suffering from hyperglycemia would find it difficult to make it to the front door.

Copyright © 2019 by Dyarne Ward


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