R v Bailey [1983] 1 W.L.R. 760

Key point

  • Where D committed a crime after become intoxicated from a drug is that non-dangerous, D could still be guilty (and without the benefit of the defence of automatism if he realized a risk of the drug causing aggressive, unpredictable and uncontrolled behaviour


  • D was a diabetic, he failed to take sufficient food after injecting insulin and inflicted grievous bodily harm in a state of hypoglycaemia
  • D sought to raise defence of automatism to charges under s18 (wounding with intent) and s20 (wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm) OAPA
  • The recorder directed the jury that automatism was no defence to those charges as it was self-induced

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Appeal dismissed – although the recorder had misdirected the jury, D had not proven automatism

Griffiths LJ

A distinction was drawn between consuming dangerous drug and alcohol and failure to ingest food after insulin injection

  • The former may be reckless since it is common knowledge that they lead to aggressive and unpredictable behaviour and persons who consume them know the risk but persist
  • The latter is unlikely to be reckless unless the person knew it would lead to the risk of aggressive and unpredictable behaviour

A test of recklessness was used to distinguish intoxication and automatism

  • ‘In our judgment, self-induced automatism, other than that due to intoxication from alcohol or drugs, may provide a defence to crimes of basic intent.’
  • ‘The question in each case will be whether the prosecution have proved the necessary element of recklessness.’
  • Recklessness in a crime of assault is where the ‘accused knows that his actions or inaction are likely to make him aggressive, unpredictable or uncontrolled with the result that he may cause some injury to others and he persists in the action or takes no remedial action when he knows it is required’