Crime CXXXXIII– Intoxication XIV

Intoxication need not be raised if the defendant is suffering from a mental impairment that falls under S. 2 of the Homicide Act 1957. The fact that the defendant is suffering from a recognized mental ailment is sufficient to reduce a charge of murder to that of manslaughter

S. 2 of the Homicide Act 1957 reads as follows: –

Persons suffering from diminished responsibility.

 (1) A person (“D”) who kills or is a party to the killing of another is not to be convicted of murder if D was suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning which—

(a) arose from a recognized medical condition,

(b) substantially impaired D’s ability to do one or more of the things mentioned in subsection (1A), and

(c) provides an explanation for D’s acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the killing.

In R v Hendy (2006) the accused a 16-year-old was suffering from some sort of mental impairment as a result of a head injury that he sustained as a child. He was callous and reckless and gave little thought to his own safety and at times had endangered his own life. On the night of the incident the accused had been drinking heavily and had attempted to take his own life, but he was stopped by friends. That night once he’d returned home, still drunk, he walked out into an alley with a knife and stabbed a man to death. The accused was arrested.

At the trial it was held that the accused did not have to show that the mental impairment would have caused him to kill. If the accused satisfies the conditions of S. 2 of the Homicide Act 1957 the verdict that would be returned would be that of manslaughter.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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