criminal law. Issue with mens rea

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Anonymous #1
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
Steven, his girlfriend Sarah, and his friends Ibrahim, Fatima and Ikram are having a house party to celebrate Sarah’s birthday. Steven has been drinking quite heavily throughout the day as he has been hearing loud voices in his head telling him that Sarah is a demon who wants to possess and steal his soul and that she must be stopped by any means necessary. The voices have been getting more frequent and louder throughout the birthday celebrations. As the party nears its end, Steven cannot take the incessant noises in his head anymore. He feels like his head is about to explode. As he looks up at Sarah, he sees a large tail protruding from underneath her dress and horns sprouting from her head. Terrified, he grabs a large knife from the kitchen and stabs Sarah once in the stomach. ‘Die demon die!’ he exclaims.

I have written my assignment but I am really confused when it comes to the element of Mes rea in this assignment. I just don't know how to argue and what to say as I want to use an insanity defence for him. Would the insanity defence be the right and shall argue that a drunken intent is still intent and he is guilty as he only stabs Sarah once.
Any help would be great. Thanks in advance
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Report 1 year ago
If you think Steven meets the test for insanity (for which you would need to apply the principles in M’Naghten), then he cannot have formed the mens rea for murder, and he would be not guilty by reason of insanity. In other words, successfully proving insanity means that D cannot, by definition, have the mens rea for the murder and be guilty of it. However, I suspect the question also wants you to consider the application of diminished responsibility, in the event your argument on insanity fails. That’s where the discussion on intoxication would come into the picture. What does your textbook say about the availability of a defence of diminished responsibility where a person is intoxicated but also has a psychological illness (which is suggested, but not explicitly stated on these facts - after all, this is not exactly a normal response to alcohol alone).

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