Crime CXXVIII – Intoxication IV

In order to decide whether intoxication should avail itself to the defendant on otherwise the court or the jury should take into account all the evidence that is made available to them as per s.8 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 which reads as follows: –

Proof of Criminal Intent

A court or jury, in determining whether a person has committed an offence –

(a) shall not be bound in law to infer that he intended or foresaw a result of his actions by reason only of its being a natural and probable consequence of those actions; but

(b) shall decide whether he did intend or foresee that result by reference to all the evidence, drawing such inferences from the evidence as appear proper in the circumstances.

In R v Lipman (1969) the accused was high on LSD and was hallucinating at the time. He was, as far as he was concerned, battling serpents somewhere and unwittingly stuffed bed sheets into the mouth of a little girl who died as a result. The accused was charged with murder.

The court decided that the accused was not guilty of murder because he neither had the intention to kill prior to committing the act or at the time of committing the act. However, he had still taken the life of another and he was convicted of the offense of manslaughter.

It is worth comparing the decision in Attorney-General of Northern Ireland v Gallagher (1961) with the decision in R v Lipman (1969) and we can come to the conclusion that whether a defendant is adjudged guilty of murder or manslaughter depends on whether there is criminal intent or otherwise and when that criminal intent is formed. If the intention to kill was formed prior to the defendant becoming intoxicated than the chances are high that the defendant would be convicted of murder and it is possible to say with some degree of certainty that the act was done with malice aforethought.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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