Crime CLVII-Insanity XIV



When the defendant’s actions are caused by both internal and external factors, the jury should be directed on both insanity and automatism.

In R v Roach (2001) the defendant was suffering from an anti-social personality disorder and while working as a caterer he stabbed a colleague in the hand over a missing mop. The defendant was arrested and charged.

During the trial the defendant claimed that he had no recollection of what had transpired and the fact that he was suffering from an anti-social personality disorder was supported by medical evidence (internal factor).

At the time of the incident the defendant had also been drinking and taking prescribed drugs (external factors).

During the trial the judge directed the jury on insanity but did not direct the jury on automatism. The jury convicted and the defense appealed on the grounds that the trial judge did not direct the jury on the defense of automatism.

The appeal was allowed and it was held that the jury should also have been directed on the defense of automatism. Given the circumstances both defenses should have been made available to the defendant.

Copyright © 2019 by Dyarne Ward


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