This defence is attractive from the point of view of D, as it is a complete defence. However there is nothing indicating that an external cause rendered Alan an automaton at the time of his act. 29 Insanity can be pleaded when an internal cause30, i. e. mental disorders, causes automatism. A successful plea of insanity can be followed by a range of hospitalization or supervision orders.
This defence is defined in the M'Naghten rules32 and mainly covers those who suffer from psychotic or serious dissociative conditions (although also epilepsy and sleep-walking) but not neurotic, emotional, or volitional disorders. It appears that Alan would fall outside this group although this would depend on a detailed assessment of Alan's paranoid personality and tendencies of depression. However considering the narrowness of this defence33, Alan should also consider the defence of diminished responsibility: According to section 2 Homicide Act 1957:
"Where a person kills or is a party to the killing of another, he shall not be convicted of murder if he was suffering from such abnormality of mind (whether arising from a condition of arrested development or retarded development of mind or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury) as substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his acts and omissions in doing or being party to the killing. "34 The categories listed as abnormality of mind have been relatively widely interpreted and considerably extended in the case of Byrne.
35 Mere emotions such as depression or stress are generally not included. However serious depressive reactive illnesses have been included if regarded as abnormal to the reasonable man in accordance with the ratio of Byrne (Seers36)37. The burden of proof is on D to prove the defence on a balance of probabilities. 38 The jury considers medical evidence (psychiatric reports) and moral or mental responsibility, and decides whether D's responsibility is substantially impaired. 39 Depending on the severity of Alan's paranoia and depression he may be successful with this defence.
Indeed in a substantial proportion of cases (77% 1997-2001) where D pleads guilty of manslaughter on the base of diminished responsibility prosecution accepts without the defence needing to be proved in court40 Diminished responsibility is a partial defence which reduces murder to voluntary manslaughter. 41 Provocation was a common law defence (Duffy) 42 later modified by s3 Homicide Act 1957. The requirement of the defence is that D was provoked to lose self control, and that the provocation was enough to make a reasonable man react as D did.
According to Duffy the loss of self control must be sudden and temporary upon provocation. Here it appears to have been a considerable delay between Betty leaving and Alan's act, and thus the defence of provocation would not work. Moreover, Betty's leaving was arguably not provocation that would make a person with reasonable powers of self-control so angry as to kill. Finally, I will consider whether Alan would have any criminal liability for the fire damages to the pub: According to section 1(1) of the Criminal Damages Act 1971:
"A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence. " Alan clearly caused destruction or damage to the pub without excuse. 43 The discussion regarding voluntariness would be the same as above regarding AR of murder / manslaughter. Looking at causation, it appears that there is no event or act that would break the chain between Alan's act and the fire causing damage to the pub.
Considering MR, two elements are required: intention or recklessness and knowledge or belief that the property belongs to another. Intention here bears its ordinary meaning (direct or oblique). A person acts recklessly with respect to 1) a circumstance when he is aware of a risk that it exists or will exist; and 2) a result when he is aware of a risk that it will occur; and it is, in the circumstances known to him, unreasonable to take that risk. (Cunningham recklessness re-established in R v G44)45.
"An offence committed under this section by destroying or damaging property by fire shall be charged as arson… "46, only (MR) difference being that D must then intend or be reckless as to damage by fire. 47 Alan would arguably have foreseen some risk of damage as a result of his act, although again this is a subjective test, hence his mental capacity and characteristics would be considered. However it is less likely he foresaw risk of damage by fire.
Based on the limited facts available, my conclusion is that Alan would be liable for murder of Clive. This may be reduced to voluntary manslaughter if he pleads diminished responsibility. Alan is likely to be guilty of the manslaughter of Betty, and of criminal damages to the pub. Fiona would not be criminally liable for their deaths, nor would Ed unless Alan escaped all liability by successfully pleading involuntariness. However a more detailed account of the case might result in a rather different conclusion.