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Automatism is a plea by a defendant that his/her actions were involuntary, that was not under the control of their conscious mind. This can be the result of loss of physical control, for example, a push by a third party. [R v Kemp [1957] Sane automatism arises where the automatism is caused by an external factor such as hypoglycaemia, concussion caused by a blow to the head, alcohol or drugs. [Quick 1973] Automatism may equally arise due to disease of the mind, this is known as insane automatism which results in a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. The defence of non-insane automatism, if successfully pleaded, acts as a complete defence absolving the defendant of all criminal liability. It differs from the defence of insane automatism in that there is no power to detain in a mental hospital neither may any other order be made against the defendant. The defence of non-insane automatism exists where a person commits a crime in circumstances where their actions can be said to be involuntary. This could be where for example an involuntary natural reaction occurs such as sneezing or being chased by a swarm of bees. A finding of non-insane automatism may also exist where the defendant is not conscious of their actions due to an external factor often as a result of medication. The essential difference between insane and non-insane automatism is that for insane automatism the defect of reason must be caused by an internal factor whereas for non-insane automatism the involuntary action must be caused by an external factor.

In scenario 1 Mario, who suffers from delusions and hears voices telling him to do things. By this, it could be established that Mario is a schizophrenic. Therefore, Mario setting fire to the van parked outside the block of flats because of voices in his head telling him to do so is the sort of disease for which a person should be detained in hospital rather than be given an unqualified acquittal. Mario will be successful with his...
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