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R v Hennessy [1989] 1 WLR 287 Court of Appeal

The appellant had stolen a car and was stopped by the police whilst driving it. He was taken to the police station and at first felt well but later taken to hospital because he was unwell. He was a diabetic and was required to take two insulin doses per day. He had not been taking his insulin as he was in an emotional state as his wife had just left him. The appellant had no recollection of taking the car. The appellant raised the defence of automatism, however, the trial judge ruled that the appropriate defence would be insanity. The appellant changed his plea to guilty and then appealed against his conviction.


Appeal was dismissed. The trial judge was right to rule that insanity was the appropriate defence. The hyperglycaemic state was caused by the disease of diabetes itself and not an outside factor of injection of insulin. - R v Quick [1973] 3 WLR 26 distinguished.