Rex v Pritchard; 21 Mar 1836

References: [1836] 7 C & P 303, [1836] EngR 540, (1836) 7 Car & P 303, (1836) 173 ER 135
Links: Commonlii
Coram: Alderson B
Ratio:A person, deaf and dumb, was to be tried for a capital felony the Judge ordered a Jury to be impanneled, to try whether he was mute by the visitation of God, the jury found that he was so. The jury were then sworn to try whether he was able to plead, which they found in the affirmative, and the prisoner, by a sign, pleaded Not guilty The Judge then ordered the jury to be sworn to try whether the prisoner was ‘now sane or not’; and on this question, his Lordship directed the jury to consider whether the prisoner had sufficieut intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings, so as to make a proper defence, to challenge any juror he might wish to object to, and to comprehend the details of the evldence, and that if they thought he had not, they should find him not of sane mind. The jury did so, and the Judge ordered the prisoner to be detained.
The court stated the test for whether a defendant was fit to plead. Alderson B said: ‘There are three points to be enquired into:- first, whether the prisoner is mute of malice or not; secondly, whether he can plead to the indictment or not; thirdly, whether he is of sufficient intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings in the trial so as to make a proper defence – to know that he might challenge any of you [the jury] to whom he may object – and to comprehend the details of the evidence, which in a case of this nature must constitute a minute investigation.”
This case cites:

  • Mentioned – Rex v Dyson (Unreported, 1831)
    Parke J empanelled a jury to decide whether the defendant was fit to plead. In directing the jury the judge referred to the following passage in Hale’s Pleas of the Crown, vol I, p 34: ‘If a man in his sound memory commits a capital offence, and . .

(This list may be incomplete)
This case is cited by:

  • Cited – Crown Prosecution Service v P; Director of Public Prosecutions v P Admn (Bailii, [2007] EWHC 946 (Admin), [2007] 4 All ER 628, [2008] 1 WLR 1005)
    The prosecutor appealed a grant of a stay of a prosecution of the 13 year old defendant as an abuse of process. Reports had indicated that he was unfit to plead. The prosecution contended that, if the court thought P ought not to face trial by . .
  • Cited – Taitt v The State PC (Bailii, [2012] UKPC 38)
    (Trinidad & Tobago) The defendant sought leave to appeal against his conviction for murder, with the death penalty mandatory sentence. He was of severely low intelligence.
    Held: The appeal against conviction would not be allowed. Settled law . .
  • Confirmed – Regina v Robertson CACD ((1968) 52 Cr App R 690, [1968] 3 All ER 557, [1968] 1 WLR 1767)
    The evidence suggested that the defendant had a complete understanding of the legal proceedings in which he was involved but, also that, through mental illness, he had suffered delusions which may have effected his ability ‘properly’ to conduct his . .
  • Cited – Regina v Berry CACD ([1978] 66 Cr App R 156)
    Although a person was highly abnormal, it did not mean that he was incapable of doing those things set out in Pritchard as the requirements to be fit to be tried. Lord Lane CJ set aside a finding that the defendant was unfit to stand trial, saying: . .
  • Explained – John M, Regina v CACD (Bailii, [2003] EWCA Crim 3452, [2004] MHLR 86)
    The trial judge had directed the jury, determining fitness to plead, with an extended formulation of the test, including the appellant’s ability to give evidence, if he wished, in his own defence. This facility had been described to mean that ‘the . .
  • Cited – Brown v The Queen PC (Bailii, [2016] UKPC 6, Privy Council Appeal No 0104 of 2014)
    Court of Appeal of Jamaica – Appeal against conviction for murder – challenge as to capacity to plead.
    Held: The appeal against conviction failed, but the appeal against sentence succeeded. . .
  • Cited – Lumsdon and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Legal Services Board SC (Bailii, [2015] UKSC 40, [2015] Crim LR 894, [2015] WLR(D) 270, [2015] 3 CMLR 42, [2015] HRLR 12, [2015] 3 WLR 121, [2016] 1 All ER 391, WLRD, Bailii Summary, UKSC 2014/0081, SC, SC Summary, SC Video)
    The appellant challenged the respondent’s approval of alterations to their regulatory arrangements, under Part 3 of Schedule 4 to the 2007 Act. The alterations gave effect to the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates providing for the assessment of . .
  • Cited – Orr, Regina v CACD (Bailii, [2016] EWCA Crim 889, [2016] WLR(D) 378, WLRD)
    The court considered whether the trial court had correctly identified the test for fitness to plead.
    Held: The appeal was allowed: ‘Once the issue of fitness to plead has been raised it must be determined. In this case, the judge explicitly . .

(This list may be incomplete)

Last Update: 21-Jul-16
Ref: 251549