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Defences Intoxication Notes

Irish BCL Notes > Irish Criminal Law Notes

This is an extract of our Defences Intoxication document, which we sell as part of our Irish Criminal Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Trinity College Dublin students.

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Intoxication R v Lipman (CA 1969) Facts

* The defendant voluntarily consumed LSD and then murdered his friend while under the influence. Issue

* Intoxication - Drugs Judgment

* Widgery LJ (concurring)

* For the purposes of ascertaining voluntariness there is no distinction between drugs voluntarily taken and drunkeness voluntarily induced.

* It may affect the mens rea but has no effect on the voluntariness of the actus reus

* Fenton Atkinson LJ (concurred)

* James LJ (concurred) DPP v Beard (HoL 1920) Facts

* The accused raped and murdered a thirteen year old girl.

* In his defence he claimed that he was so drunk that he did not know what he was doing. Issue

* Intoxication - Definition - Availablity Judgment (Lord Birkenhead LC)

* Insanity produced by drunkeness, e.g. delirium tremens, is a defence.

* Evidence of drunkeness which renders the accused incapable of forming the specific intent essential to constitute the crime should be taken into account (with other facts) in determining whether or not he had this intent.

* If the drunkeness did not render him incapable of forming the intent, but merely made him more susceptible to some violent passion, it does not rebut the presumption that an accused intends the natural consequences of his acts.

* In this case intoxication is no defence unless the accused was rendered incapable of forming the requisite intention to commit the crime - on the evidence this was not the case. R v Majewski (HoL 1976) Facts

* The plaintiff was charged with assault.

* He claimed that he lacked the necessary mens rea as he was intoxicated Issue

* Intoxication - Basic intent Judgment

* The common law rule is that voluntary intoxication is not a defence, except where a specific intention has to be proved.

* per Lord Elwyn-Jone LC

* The common law rule is not unjust - in bringing himself into the intoxicated

condition the accused has the mens rea of recklessness. It would present practical difficulties for the administration of justice if the rule in general were to be relaxed. Lord Simon of Glaisdale

* To relax the rule as suggested would result in removing the protection of the law from people subject to unprovoked violence where the violence arose out of intoxication. Lord Salmon - There is a certain illogicality in that the law can negative specific intent but not general intent, however the law is a creature of common sense, not logic.




R v Caldwell (HoL 1981) Facts

* The accused set fire to a hotel where he worked and against whose owner he bore a grudge.

* He claimed that he was so drunk at the time that he failed to appreciate that he was endangering the lives of the people within. Issue

* Intoxication - Basic Intent Judgment

* Lord Wilberforce (dissenting - agreed with Lord Edumund-Davies)

* Lord Diplock (concurring)

* Evidence of self-induced drunkeness could not be a defence when the charge included a reference to being reckless as to danger to life or property - deliberately robbing oneself of the restraints of reason and conscience is a reckless act.

* Where part of a mental element of a crime involves being aware of something, an intoxicated defendant will not escape liability unless he would not have been aware of that element when sober.

* Lord Edmund-Davies (dissenting)

* In relation to crimes of specific intent, incapacity, arising out of selfintoxication, to appreciate the nature and degree of the risk created by one's actions is a defence.

* Lord Keith of Kinkel (concurring - agreed with Lord Diplock)

* Lord Roskill (concurring - agreed with Lord Diplock) R v Fotheringham (CA 1988) Facts

* The accused raped his fourteen year old baby sitter and in his defence claimed that he was so drunk that he believed he was having sex with his wife. Issue

* Intoxication - Basic Intent Judgment (Watkins LJ)

* Self-induced intoxication is no defence where the issue is intention, consent or mistake as to the identity of the victim - all these things must be judged as to whether the accused would have made such errors of judgment when sober.

* Per Caldwell - Self-intoxication is not a defence where recklessness is enough to constitute the mens rea.

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