Crime CXXII – Self Defense XII

If the defendant suffered from an abnormality of the mind, and reacted to a situation in the way and manner a normal person would not have or had used excessive force in defending himself or his property, keeping in mind that the defendant’s actions when acting in self-defense is normally instinctive, and all that the defendant needs to establish is that he or she felt that at the time his or her actions were honestly and instinctively necessary to defend himself or herself, the defense of self-defense may not avail itself to the victim, if the prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in self-defense.

In R v Martin (2002) the defendant lived by himself in an isolated farmhouse which for all purposes looked rundown and to some extent dilapidated and had in the past been subjected to numerous break-ins. On the night in question the victim and his friend tried to break into the farmhouse and the defendant went downstairs armed with a shotgun and shot at both the intruders hitting the victim in the back and thereby killing him. At his trial the defendant raised the defense of self-defense. The jury rejected the defense and convicted the defendant for murder. The defendant appealed on the grounds that he suffered from a personality disorder and that should have been taken into account.

On appeal the conviction for murder was quashed. While a personality disorder will not be considered for the purposes of self-defense, the jury ought to have taken into account psychiatric reports that suggested that the defendant suffered from an abnormality of the mind.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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