- need for reform generally accepted / wide criticism of M'Naghten rules / Dr Winstanley:
.. as long ago as 1874 the noble Lord, Lord Bramwell.. said that 'the present law lays down such a definition of madness that nobody is hardly ever really mad enough to be within it'...
- Law Commission's Tenth Programme of Reform / considering Unfitness to plead & insanity defence / document outlining the programme:
.. the problems with the current law are many and deep....
- legal not medical / raises uncertainty
- Ds may know act is wrong but have irresistible urge / defence unavailable / psychopaths (Byrne)
- conversely Ds suffering some physical illnesses may be considered legally insane / diabetes (Hennessey)
- not guilty by reason of insanity / implications significant / can lead to indefinite detention in secure hospital / may be lengthier sentence than life
- well documented many offenders suffer mental health problems / yet insanity relatively uncommon defence
- Article 5 of ECHR / person of unsound mind may be detained but also afforded protections / interpreted to mean need for objective medical expertise / not always involved in insanity pleas
- Butler Committee 1975 / recommended new verdict of not guilty by reason of mental disorder / where D unable to form required mens rea due to mental disorder or aware of his actions but suffering from severe mental illness / suggested may help alleviate stigma
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- recommended proof of severe mental disorder / sufficient to negate responsibility / but would allow criminal responsibility to be determined by presence of mental problem / rather than establishing standard of criminal responsibility
- question whether insanity should be available for all crimes/ even those not requiring mens rea
- Royal Commission on Capital Punishment 1953 / found M'Naghten Rules inadequate / criticising their scope
- overlap clear / distinction lies in whether D's conduct due to automatic state induced by internal or external factor / Law Commission:
.. the relationship is unsatisfactory because of the 'external factor' doctrine...
- unfair / lead to very different verdicts / automatism entitles acquittal / not guilty by reason of insanity judge must impose some order
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