Daniel M’Naghten’s Case: HL 1843

Daniel M’Naghten suffered from a mental disorder under which he believed that he was being persecuted by various bodies in authority, including the Tory Party. He sought to kill the Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, but shot and killed instead Peel’s private secretary whom he had mistaken for the Prime Minister. The onus of establishing a defence of insanity was ‘definitely and exceptionally’ on the defendant. After his acquittal for insanity, the House was asked to set out the rules for the defence of insanity: ‘. . the jurors ought to be told in all cases that every man is presumed to be sane, and to possess a sufficient degree of reason to be responsible for his crimes, until the contrary be proved to their satisfaction; and that to establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.’

Tindal LCJ, Lord Brougham, Lord Campbell, Lord Cottenham, Lord Wynford
(1843) 10 Cl and Fin 200, [1843] 8 ER 718, [1843] UKHL J16, [1843] EngR 875
Bailii, Commonlii
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedWoolmington v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 23-May-1935
Golden Thread of British Justice – Proof of Intent
The appellant had been convicted of the murder of his wife. She had left him and returned to live with her mother. He went to the house. He said he intended to frighten her that he would kill himself if she did not return. He wired a shotgun to . .
CitedSheldrake v Director of Public Prosecutions; Attorney General’s Reference No 4 of 2002 HL 14-Oct-2004
Appeals were brought complaining as to the apparent reversal of the burden of proof in road traffic cases and in cases under the Terrorism Acts. Was a legal or an evidential burden placed on a defendant?
Held: Lord Bingham of Cornhill said: . .
CitedCorr v IBC Vehicles Ltd HL 27-Feb-2008
The claimant’s husband had committed suicide. She sought damages for financial loss from his former employers under the 1976 Act. He had suffered a severe and debilitating injury working for them leading to his depression and suicide. The employers . .
CitedRegina v Kingston HL 22-Jul-1994
Involuntary Intoxication not a General Defence
The prosecutor appealed an acquittal on appeal of the defendant for sexual assault, saying that he had not had the necessary intent because of intoxication through drink and drugs. He said that a co-defendant had secretly administered drugs to him. . .
CitedPorter v Zurich Insurance Company QBD 5-Mar-2009
The claimant insured his house with the defendants. Severely depressed, drunk and delusional, he set fire to it and now claimed after refusal to pay out. He said that he was not acting as a free agent.
Held: A claimant who seeks to recover . .
CitedO’Connor, Regina (On the Application of) v HM Coroner for District of Avon and Another Admn 7-May-2009
Two children died when their father jumped with them from a hotel balcony. The father had been acquitted in Crete of manslaughter after evidence of his psychiatric condition. The applicant now challenged the English coroner’s verdict of unlawful . .
CitedHenderson v Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust CA 3-Aug-2018
Upon the allegedly negligent release of the claimant from mental health care, she had, while in the midst of a serious psychotic episode, derived from the schizophrenia, killed her mother and been convicted of manslaughter. She now sought damages in . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Health

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.218808