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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