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R v Diamond [2008] EWCA Crim 923 Court of Appeal


In 1997, at the age of 19, the appellant killed and dismembered the body a 17 year old. The appellant had a history of serious violent offences. The appellant instructed counsel not to raise the defence of diminished responsibility wishing to run his defence on the sole ground denying the killing. He had previously been acquitted of two separate offences by denying any involvement (which he had later admitted to carrying out). The jury did not accept his version of events and he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

His violence continued in prison and he was sent for psychiatric assessment which revealed that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He applied for leave to appeal which was refused. He then applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission but still did not admit the killing. This was refused. He then reapplied admitted the killing but wishing to raise the defence of diminished responsibility. The Commission referred the case to the Court of Appeal.


Held:

The appeal was dismissed. The decision not to run the defence of diminished responsibility at trial was a tactical one. The medical reports at the time of trial stated the appellant had significant personality problems but no evidence of mental illness. The diagnosis of schizophrenia came four years after the killing and the medical report was written a further 3 years later. The Court of Appeal therefore attached greater weight to the medical evidence given at the time of trial. He was given competent and clear advice in 1998 in the period leading up to the trial that it would be in his own interests to undergo an assessment and to consider the defence of diminished responsibility. However, the probability is that, having obtained acquittals in 1995 and 1996, the self interest in obtaining an acquittal was the dominant motive in his decision to plead not guilty. There was no evidence that any lack of insight brought about by his schizophrenia played a material role in his decision.

Back to lecture outline on Diminished Responsibility