Crime CXXXVII– Intoxication XIII

With regards to alcoholism, in order for it to be defense or to be considered or regarded as a defense, the disease must rob the victim of the ability to resist. If the defendant still retains the ability to resist than the taking of the intoxicant would be deemed voluntary and the rules with regards to self-intoxication would apply.

The impairment caused by repeated drinking must be so substantive that it has robbed the defendant of the ability to reason and has caused “gross impairment to her judgement and emotion responses” – Watkins LJ.

Whether the alcoholism has deprived the defendant of the ability to reason or has caused gross impairment to her judgement and emotion responses, will depend on the medical evidence that is produced during the trial.

In R v Tandy (1989) the accused strangled her 11-year-old daughter to death after she complained to the accused that she had been sexually abused by her stepfather. The accused had been drinking heavily just prior to the incident and at the time of the incident she was very drunk. The accused was tried and convicted for murder. The accused appealed but the appeal was dismissed.

In assessing whether the defense of diminished responsibility can be successfully raised there are two principles to be considered. Firstly, if there are no other factors to be considered, unequivocal and un-contradictory medical evidence favorable to the accused should be accepted and the direction to the jury should be as such and secondly when there are other factors to be considered the medical evidence though unequivocal and un-contradictory should be considered in light of those factors or those circumstances.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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