When the defendant’s actions are due to post traumatic stress (a mental disorder that is triggered by a horrifying or terrifying event) the defense that is available to the defendant is automatism because despite the seriousness of the illness, it is brought on by external factors and often factors that are beyond the defendant’s control.
In R v T (1990) the defendant was a rape victim who a few days after the incident was involved in a robbery which included causing actual bodily harm as defined by s.47 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861). During the trial the defendant claimed that she was in a dream like state or in another reality and medical evidence showed that at the time she was suffering from post traumatic stress as a consequence or result of which she was in a dis-associative state.
The trial judge directed the jury on automatism, in line with the decision in R v Quick (1973) i.e. a disorder that has been brought on by external factors, in this case a horrible and terrifying crime, but the jury convicted nonetheless.
Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward