Regina v Lloyd: CCA 1967

The defendant had killed his wife. There was evidence that from time to time he had suffered recurrent episodes of reactive depression. Two psychiatrists gave evidence that this was a mental abnormality which to some extent impaired his mental responsibility. Neither was prepared to say that the impairment was substantial. The first said that the depression impaired his responsibility ‘to some extent’. The second said that there was some effect; he could not say to what degree, but although it was not as low as minimal it was not substantial. Ashworth J, at trial, directed the jury ‘Fourthly, this word ‘substantial’, members of the jury. I am not going to try to find a parallel for the word ‘substantial’. You are the judges, but your own common sense will tell you what it means. This far I will go. Substantial does not mean total, that is to say, the mental responsibility need not be totally impaired, so to speak destroyed altogether. At the other end of the scale substantial does not mean trivial or minimal. It is something in between and Parliament has left it to you and other juries to say on the evidence, was the mental responsibility impaired, and, if so, was it substantially impaired?’
Held: Edmund Davies J approved the direction.
He rejected an argument that the judge had erred in not directing the jury that ‘substantially’ meant ‘really present’ or ‘not trivial’. That was a submission that it meant no more than that there was some operating impairment, and thus that any such sufficed, so long as it was not trivial: ‘This court is wholly unable to accept that submission. The word ‘substantially’ obviously is inserted in the Act with a view to carrying some meaning. It does carry a meaning. This court is quite unable to see that the direction given to the jury on the meaning of this word, can validly be criticised, and finds itself in a difficulty of saying that any distinction can be validly drawn between the direction given in the instant case and that approved of by this court in Reg v Simcox.’


Edmund Davies J


[1967] 1 QB 175


Homicide Act 1957


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Khan CACD 27-Jul-2009
On his trial for murder the defendant produced unchallenged expert evidence that at the time of the offence, his mental responsibility for the killing was substantially impaired by his mental illness. He said that in these circumstances the charge . .
CitedGolds, Regina v SC 30-Nov-2016
The defendant appealed against his conviction for murder, saying that he should have been only convicted of manslaughter, applying the new test for diminished responsibility as provided under the 1957 Act as amended, and particularly whether the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 22 August 2022; Ref: scu.368588