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R v Stewart [2009] 1 WLR 2507 Court of Appeal

The appellant was a chronic alcoholic sleeping rough in Marble Arch. He killed a man in the course of a fight. He raised the defence of diminished responsibility. The trial judge in his direction to the jury stated:

"…the disease relied upon here is alcoholism, or its technical expression …alcohol dependency syndrome. Crucial, you may think critical, to that particular issue is whether the defendant had the capacity to resist the impulse to consume alcohol: whether the defendant had the capacity to resist the impulse to consume alcohol. In other words, was his consumption of alcohol totally involuntary.”

The jury rejected the defence and convicted him of murder. He appealed on the grounds of a misdirection.

 

Court of Appeal held:

The appeal was allowed. The effect of the direction was that the defence would not be available if the jury found that any of the appellant's drinking was voluntary and as such following R v Wood [2009] 1 WLR 496, amounted to a misdirection.

 
Back to lecture outline on diminished responsibility in criminal law