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R v Burns 58 Crim App R 364 Court of Appeal

The appellant was an alcoholic and suffered periods of amnesia caused by brain damage. His amnesia was not only an inability to recall past events but also at times things did not register at the time of experiencing because his brain function was impaired. On the day of the offence the appellant had taken alcohol and a prescribed drug, Mandrax. The trial judge ruled that the defence of automatism could not be put before the jury being of the view that the doctor's evidence showed that, if automatism had occurred, it must have been due to disease of the mind. The appellant appealed

Held


The trial Judge was in error because he did not leave the issue of automatism to the jury as a separate issue from insanity. The court considered that, in the light of the decision in Quick, automatism should have been left as a separate issue because there was some evidence 'that other factors were operating upon a disease of the appellant's mind', which factors appeared to have been the consumption of alcohol or Mandrax in a situation where the appellant did not appreciate the effect which they might have had.
 
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