Bratty v AG for Northern Ireland

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Bratty v Attorney-General for Northern Ireland
House of lords
Date decided3 October 1961
Full case nameBratty v Attorney-General for Northern Ireland
Citations1961 UKHL 3
Judges sittingLord Kilmuir, LC; Lord Tucker; Lord Denning; Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest; Lord Hodson
Cases citedR v Cottle ([1958] NZLR. 999; R v Kemp [1957] 1 QB 399; R v Charlson [1955] 1 WLR 317; Woolmington v. DPP [1935] AC 462; R v Tolson (1889) 23 QBD 168; Hill v Baxter [1958] 1 QB 277; R v Podola [1960] 1 QB 325; A-G for South Australia v Brown [1960] AC 432; R v Byrne (1960) 2 QB 396; DPP v Beard [1920] AC 479 and others
Legislation citedcommon law
Case history
Subsequent actionsNone
Murder; manslaughter; intent; mens rea; automatism

This case ([1963] AC 386) demonstrates the confusing distinction between 'automotism' and 'insanity' in English law. The defendant was accused of murder and, in defence, pleaded automatism and insanity. He was suffering from psychomotor epilepsy and could, therefore, have suffered involunatary actions. However, the trial judge dismissed the claim of automatism because English law recognizes epilepsy as a form of insanity. The jury did not accept a plea of insanity and Bratty was convicted. The conviction was upheld by both the Court of Appeal and the House of lords.

Case Law