Crime CXXXXII– Intoxication XIII

The rule in R v O’Grady (1987) with regards to a mistake of facts induced by self-intoxication was reaffirmed in the 2005 case of R v Hatton, in that, a defendant cannot validly raise the defense of self-defense when he caused the death of another under a mistaken belief that was precipitated by the excessive consumption of alcohol or the taking of drugs.

In R v Hatton (2005) the defendant and the victim met at a pub. The victim was a manic depressive and was prescribed lithium to keep his illness under control. On the day in question the defendant had not taken his lithium and the alcohol in is blood was above twice the legal limit.

The defendant and the victim met in a pub. They did not know each other prior to that and on the day, the victim was acting strangely and passed himself off as a former member of the SAS and was exhibiting his martial arts skills. Both men had been drinking heavily and left together in the defendant’s car. The defendant drove the victim to his home and he could not remember what happened next.

The following morning the defendant called the police informing them that there was a dead man in his house. The victim had been battered to death by a sledgehammer and there was a long stick close to his body. The defendant was charged and the trial judge directed the jury along the lines of R v O’Grady (1987) and the fact that the defendant labored under a mistake of facts induced by his drunkenness was not a defense and the jury convicted for murder. The defendant appealed on the grounds that the jury should look at the facts as it appeared to the defendant or as he believed them to be (subjective).

The appeal was dismissed, and the conviction was upheld. The defendant’s drunken mistake cannot give rise to the defense of self-defense.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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