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   Case summaries      R v Pritchard

R v Pritchard (1836) 7 C&P 303

The defendant was deaf and mute. Alderson B set the test to apply in deciding fitness to plead:

"There are three points to be enquired into:- first, whether the prisoner is mute of malice or not; secondly, whether he can plead to the indictment or not; thirdly, whether he is of sufficient intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings in the trial so as to make a proper defence - to know that he might challenge any of you to whom he may object - and to comprehend the details of the evidence, which in a case of this nature must constitute a minute investigation."

The jury were directed that there were to find him unfit to plead if in their opinion there was no certain mode of communicating the details of the trial to the prisoner, so that he could clearly understand them, and be able properly to make his defence to the charge.
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