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Criminal Law
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  • FREE
30 minutes of audio
(+ optional 5 minute online quiz)
Plays on Computer:
Yes Downloadable as MP3:    Yes
Course Aims:

This podcast aims to analyse the important changes that have been made to the partial defence of diminished responsibility in murder cases. Two criminal practitioners will assess whether the new law represents and improvement from the old and to what degree.

After completing the course you will:
  • Understand why the old defence of diminished responsibility has been redrafted;
  • Be aware of the difference between an “abnormality of mind” and an “abnormality of mental functioning”;
  • Be aware of the effect of drink, drugs and mental abnormality under the old law and new;
  • Understand the relationship between this defence and a finding of unfitness to plead;
  • Be aware of the prominence the new role gives to psychiatrist expert witnesses;
  • Be aware of the difference between a “recognised medical condition” and a “recognised mental condition”;
  • Know the scope of the new defence and how that contrasts with the position before October 2010;
  • Understand whether this defence actually creates an offence of what we could accurately describe as 2nd degree murder;
  • The distinction and recognition in the criminal law that children are naturally not as mentally developed as an adult.
General Interest Difficulty: 2 of 5
Legislative Updates
Sources and References:
  • Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s52(1);
  • Homicide Act 1957 ss 2, 1A;
  • R v Byrne [1960] 44 Cr.App.R. 246;
  • R v Lloyd 50 Cr.App.R. 61;
  • R v Dietschmann [2003] 1 AC 1209;
  • R v Stewart, [2009] 2 Cr.App.R. 30;
  • Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 ss 6;
  • 10th Revision of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Mental & Behavioural Diseases (ICD-10);
  • American Psychiatric Association equivalent the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV);
  • The Code for Crown Prosecutors.

This podcast is about the reformed defence to homicide of diminished responsibility after October 2010. This podcast compares the old law with the new and discusses how the relevant changes will affect the course of a trial. The podcast also looks at the perennial question of whether diminished responsibility is really second degree murder by another name and whether the failure to differentiate between adult and child defendants produces a disproportionate approach which fails to have regard to child development.

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