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R v Hatton [2006] 1 Cr App R 16 Court of Appeal

The appellant battered Richard Pashley to death with a sledgehammer after consuming a large quantity of alcohol. Mr Pashley was 49. He suffered from manic depression and was prescribed Lithium to control disinhibition he experienced when in a manic state. On the day of his death he had not taken his Lithium and had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. He had been behaving in a strange fashion, falsely representing that he had been an officer in the SAS and striking martial art poses. He had exhibited a hatred of homosexuals. The appellant and Mr Pashley did not know one another, but met in the early hours of 22 June in a nightclub. From there they drove together in the appellant's car to his flat. The appellant called the police the following morning and stated there was a dead man in his flat. The appellant had no recollection of the actual killing but stated he vaguely remembered being hit with a stick. A five foot stick had been found underneath the deceased.

The defence counsel wished to suggest to the jury that, if the appellant killed Mr Pashley, he might have acted in self-defence. Mr Pashley might have attacked him with the stick, perhaps under the erroneous impression that the appellant was a homosexual, and that the appellant might have used the sledgehammer to defend himself. For this defence to succeed, however, the jury would have to be persuaded that the use made by the appellant of the sledgehammer was or might have been a reasonable reaction to the suggested assault by Mr Pashley. The defence counsel wished to argue that the appellant's drunken state might have led him to believe, mistakenly, that Mr Pashley was an SAS soldier attacking him with a sword. In the absence of the jury he sought a ruling from the judge that the reasonableness of the appellant's reaction fell to be judged according to the facts as he believed them to be, even if that belief was mistaken and the mistake was caused by the drink that he had consumed. The judge ruled that this could not be put before the jury. The jury convicted him of murder. The appellant appealed challenging the correctness of the decision in O Grady that a defendant's drunken perception of events can not be relied on in the context of self-defence.

Held:

Appeal dismissed. The appellant's conviction upheld. The established in R v O Grady that a defendant's drunken mistake can not be relied on for the purposes of self-defence affirmed.