Rex V. Nasamu (1940)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Murder—Issue as to whether verdict should be guilty or guilty but insane—Rules governing appeals not complied with—Onus of establishing insanity–meaning of contemporaneous acts.
The appellant was convicted of murder. The sole ground of appeal was that he was not satisfied with the sentence. Application for leave was not opposed by Crown and Counsel was briefed on behalf of appellant but no amended grounds were filed. This should have been done but no embarrassment was caused.
The trial Judge found that there was ample evidence to show that accused was insane immediately after the killing but none that he was insane before the act and held that he had failed to establish insanity as a defence.. In his report to the Court under rule 47 the Judge emphasised that in his opinion the accused was definitely abnormal when the crime was committed and most probably did not know the nature of his act.
(1) Nigerian Law differs from English Law as to defence of insanity is to be found in paragraph 1 of section 28 of the Criminal Code.
- A finding of ” most probable ” would not be sufficient to discharge the onus of proof on the prosecution but such a high degree of proof is not required for defence of insanity (Sodeham v. The King). The finding of the Court should therefore have been that accused did not know the nature of his act.
- The word ” contemporaneous ” must not be construed as ” simultaneous but as covering acts committed immediately after the act charged. A finding that accused was insane immediately after the killing must on a proper direction as to this have led to a definite finding that accused was insane at the time.
Finding of ” guilty but insane ” substituted.
It therefore appears to us that, although the Appellant was guilty of the act charged against him, he was insane at the time the act was done so as not to be responsible according to law for his actions. Accordingly the sentence passed at the trial is quashed and it is ordered that the Appellant be kept in custody as a criminal lunatic in the Lagos Prison until the Governor’s pleasure be known.