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Drilldown: Cases

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Cases > Subject : Advance_decision_cases or Unfitness and insanity cases

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Page name Sentence Summary
Loake v CPS (2017) EWHC 2855 (Admin) Insanity "For the purposes of this appeal we shall assume that the Appellant pursued a course of conduct which objectively amounted to harassment. The real issue is the question whether the defence of insanity is available on a charge of harassment contrary to Section 2(1) of the PFHA given the terms of Section 1(1)(b). ... It follows that we answer 'Yes' to the question posed in the stated case: 'Is the defence of insanity available for a defendant charged with an offence of harassment, contrary to Section 2(1) PFHA?' ... Finally, we add this. Although in this judgment we have held that the M'Naghten Rules apply to the offence of harassment contrary to Section 2 of the PFHA just as they do to all other criminal offences, this should not be regarded as any encouragement to frequent recourse to a plea of insanity. M'Naghten's Case makes clear that every person is presumed to be sane. The burden lies on a defendant to prove on a balance of probabilities that he or she falls within the M'Naghten Rules. The offences in the PFHA generally require a "course of conduct", that is, conduct on more than one occasion (see Section 7). In practice, prosecutions are generally brought in respect of conduct repeated many times over a significant period. We do not anticipate that someone who has engaged in such conduct will readily be able to show that throughout that period they did not know the nature and quality of their act, or that throughout that time they did not know what they were doing was wrong, in the necessary sense. If the defence is to be relied upon, it will require psychiatric evidence of great cogency addressing the specific questions contained in the M'Naghten Rules. In the Crown Court, by Section 1 of the 1991 Act, the special verdict may not be returned except on the evidence of two registered medical practitioners. In the absence of cogent psychiatric evidence about the specific relevant aspects of a defendant's mental state throughout his alleged course of conduct, we would expect magistrates and judges to deal robustly with claimed defences of insanity."

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