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Philip Dim V. The Queen (1952) LJR-WACA

Philip Dim V. The Queen (1952)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West Africa Court of Appeal

Criminal Law—Intent to murder—Insanity—Crown not calling medical evidence—Defence of “black-out”—Criminal Code, sections 27 and 28.


Sections 27 and 28 of the Criminal Code read as follows:—
“27. Every person is presumed to be of sound mind, and to have been of sound mind at any time which comes in question, until the contrary is proved.

“28. A person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission if at the time of doing the act or making the omission he is in such a state of mental disease or natural mental infirmity as to deprive him of capacity to understand what he is doing, or of capacity to control his actions, or of capacity to know that he ought not to do the act or make the omission.

“A person whose mind, at the time of his doing or omitting to do an act, is affected by delusions on some specific matter or matters, but who is not otherwise entitled to the benefit of the foregoing provisions of this section, is criminally responsible for the act or omission to the same extent as if the real state of things had been such as he was induced by the delusions to believe to exist.”

The appellant was convicted of murder. The facts were that he left his room in the small hours of the morning and went to his wife’s room, and injured her badly with a pickaxe-head, and she died of the injuries. There was no evidence of motive.

See also  R. H. Millar V. A. A. Porter (1939) LJR-WACA

The Crown did not call any medical evidence on his soundness of mind (this is presumed under section 27 of the Criminal Code until the contrary is proved). The defence was that the appellant suffered from a “ black-out ” at the time of the offence; but he did not call the warder or the doctor who had him under observation in the prison; that defence stood on his own evidence only.

There was evidence from Crown witnesses that the appellant became ill and had
pain in the abdomen and was at times morose and unfriendly, but not of his becoming excited or violent or of his ever having suffered from loss of memory or a “black-out In his evidence appellant said he woke up and did not know what happened afterwards, and learnt of the occurrence in the morning when he saw a crowd of people; he was asked by someone why he had quarrelled with the deceased but made no answer because, he explained, he did not know if he had killed her—which went to show that he was himself when asked. The trial Judge did not believe his evidence that he had a black-out at the time of the offence, and found the appellant guilty of murder.

In the appeal it was argued for him that;—
(1) there was no evidence of intent to murder;
(2) the Judge was wrong in not accepting the defence of insanity in spite of the evidence in support;
(3) the law did not require the defence to call medical evidence; that was the duty of the prosecution.

See also  Chief Yaw Damoah Of Contrajesu As Representing The Stool Of Contrajesu And As Kyidomhene Of Dormaa On Behalf Of The Omanhene Of Dormaa V. Chief Kofi Taibil Of Susuansu As Representing The Stool Of Susuansu & Anor (1947) LJR-WACA


(1) A person is taken to intend the natural and probable consequences of his acts; intent to murder was a necessary inference to be drawn from the acts of the appellant in this case.

(2) It is a presumption of law that every person is of sound mind; there is no need for the prosecution to call evidence to prove the sanity of the accused person. It is for the defence to prove insanity; and it was open to the defence to call the warder and the doctor who had had him under observation.

(3) The evidence made it clear that the illness the appellant suffered from was of the body, not of the mind. The trial Judge did not accept the appellant’s evidence of a black-out at the tiriie)f the offence, rightly, having regard to the evidence in the case. The apparent absence of motive was not necessarily an indication of insanity; there might have been a motive known only to the appellant

Appeal dismissed.

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