JELR 81174 (WACA)    
West Africa Court of Appeal  ·  West Africa [For WACA cases]
Other Citations
1944 10 WACA 236-237
Core Terms Beta
defence of insanity
burden of proof
civil proceedings
learned trial judge
medical report
sufficiency of the evidence
time of the act
12th june
adjournment of this appeal
appellant’s part
cape coast
case offer
charge of murder
conduct of the appellant
consequences of his act
consideration of jury
gold coast
material evidence
medical testimony
mental condition of the appellant
mental derangement
reason of imbecility
satisfactory evidence
such evidence
whole of the summing

Harragin, C.J., Gold Coast :- In this matter, the appellant who was convicted by a jury at the Criminal Assizes at Cape Coast on the 17th May, 1944, on a charge of murder, contrary to section 221 of Cap. 9, appeals on the ;, ground that he was insane at the time of the act charged and that the , jury should therefore have found him guilty but insane. It is submitted on his behalf that although by section 52 of Cap. 9 and section 130 of Cap. 10 proof of insanity as a defence by an accused f person charged with an act or omission is required, any evidence , which raises a doubt as to his sanity is sufficient to entitle the accused to the benefit of that doubt, and that the jury were not directed as to the sufficiency of the evidence before the Court to sustain the defence of insanity. In support of this proposition, Sodeman v. The King, a note on which is at page 17 of Archibald’s Criminal Pleading and Practice, 31st Edition, has been cited. The passage on that case reads as follows :-

“The burden of proof which rests upon the prisoner to establish the defence (of insanity) is not so heavy as that which rests upon the prosecution to prove the facts which they have to establish. It has not been definitely defined but it may perhaps be stated as not being higher than the burden which rests upon a plaintiff or defendant in civil proceedings.”

There seems to be some disagreement as to the effect of the decision in Sodeman v. The King, but applying the test there laid down, did the appellant in this case offer satisfactory evidence for the consideration of jury and which the learned trial Judge could put to them to support a defence of insanity? We find that there was no such evidence before the Court by which it could be found that the appellant by reason of imbecility or mental derangement or disease did not know the nature or consequences of his act, in other words that he did not know that his act was wrong or that he did not know what he was doing. It is true that on the adjournment of this appeal on the 12th June last, a medical report was called for- as to the mental condition of the appellant, and that report has since been furnished, but it was called for, not for the purpose of supplying evidence which might have been produced by the appellant at his trial, but to satisfy this Court that he was fit to conduct this appeal and that the appeal ,was not a nullity for lack of appreciation on the appellant’s part of the nature of the proceedings. The medical report has been looked at for that purpose only and, whatever consideration may be given to it at another time and place, it cannot weigh further with this Court than has been above indicated.

Then it is submitted for the appellant that the learned trial Judge did not in his summing-up put to the jury the conduct of the appellant immediately preceding and at the time of the act charged in order that the jury might infer that he was suffering from some delusion. Reading the whole of the summing-up we are satisfied that the material evidence on which the appellant relied was reviewed and the medical testimony as to hallucinations and delusions was read to the jury in such a manner that they could decide in relation to the evidence upon which the appellant relied to establish his defence of insanity, whether a verdict of guilty or guilty but insane should be returned. The jury on the evidence before them, in our opinion, rightly convicted the appellant and this appeal must therefore be dismissed.