Case link: Automatism – insanity – Bratty v Attorney General of Northern Ireland [1961] UKHL 3

“The Court of Criminal Appeal certified that their decision in dismissing the Appellant’s appeal involved two points of law of general public importance. The first was ” whether, his plea of insanity having been rejected by ” the jury, it was open to the accused to rely upon a defence of automatism “. This raises the question whether a person who by legal tests and standards is sane and who is charged with a criminal offence could be held to be non-accountable for his actions so as to be not guilty of the offence charged against him on the basis that his actions had been unconscious ones and in that sense involuntary.

The second point of law certified was expressed in these words: ” If the ” answer to (1) be in the affirmative, whether, on the evidence, the defence of automatism should have been left to the jury.” This raises the question whether there was any evidence of ” automatism ” which was fit to be left to the jury.”

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Case link: Duress – characteristics – Bowen [1996] EWCA Crim 1792

“What are the relevant characteristics of the accused to which the jury should have regard in considering the second objective test in duress. This question has given rise to considerable difficulty in recent cases. It seems clear that age and sex are, and physical health or disability may be, relevant characteristics. But beyond that it is not altogether easy to determine from the authorities what others may be relevant.”

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Case link: Self-defence – mistaken belief – Beckford v The Queen [1987] UKPC 1

pigsty“On 28 March 1985 the appellant was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On 10 October 1985 the Court of Appeal of Jamaica dismissed his appeal against conviction, and gave leave to appeal, certifying the following question as being of exceptional public importance:

‘1.(a) Must the test to be applied for self defence be based on what a person reasonably believed on reasonable grounds to be necessary to resist an attack or should it be what the accused honestly believed?

1.(b) Where, in the instant case, on a trial of an indictment for murder the issue of self defence is raised is it a proper direction in law for the Jury to be told by the trial Judge: A man who is attacked in circumstances where he reasonably believes his life to be in danger or that he is in danger of serious bodily injury may use such force as on reasonable grounds he thinks necessary in order to resist the attack and if in using such force he kills his assailant he is not guilty of any crime even if the killing is intentional?’”

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Case link: Strict liability – B v. Director of Public Prosecutions [2000] UKHL 13

bee“Section 1(1) of the Indecency with Children Act 1960 makes it a criminal offence to commit an act of gross indecency with or towards a child under the age of fourteen, or to incite a child under that age to such an act. The question raised by the appeal concerns the mental element in this offence so far as the age ingredient is concerned.

The answer to this question depends upon the proper interpretation of the section…

As habitually happens with statutory offences, when enacting this offence Parliament defined the prohibited conduct solely in terms of the proscribed physical acts. Section 1(1) says nothing about the mental element. In particular, the section says nothing about what shall be the position if the person who commits or incites the act of gross indecency honestly but mistakenly believed that the child was fourteen or over.

In these circumstances the starting point for a court is the established common law presumption that a mental element, traditionally labelled mens rea, is an essential ingredient unless Parliament has indicated a contrary intention either expressly or by necessary implication… Is there here a compellingly clear implication that Parliament should be taken to have intended that the ordinary common law requirement of a mental element should be excluded in respect of the age ingredient of this new offence”

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Case link: Defence – consent – Attorney General’s Reference No 6 of 1980 [1981] EWCA Crim 1

streetfight1

“This is a reference to the Court by the Attorney General under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972. The point of law upon which the Court is asked to give its opinion is as follows: “Where two persons fight (otherwise than in the course of sport) in a public place can it be a defence for one of those persons to a charge of assault arising out of the fight that the other consented to fight.”

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Case link: Self-defence – lawful object – Attorney-General’s Reference No 2 of 1983 [1984] EWCA Crim 1

acid

“The question referred by Her Majesty’s Attorney General to this Court for consideration is as follows: “Whether the defence of self-defence is available to a defendant charged with offences under section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 and section 6k of the Offences Against the Person Act l86l”

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