R v Johnson (Dean) – Case Summary

R v Johnson (Dean)

Court of Appeal

Citations: [2007] EWCA Crim 78.


The appellant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, including delusions and auditory hallucinations. While having a delusional episode, he broke into one victim’s home and stabbed him in the shoulder. He then arrived at another person’s house, still carrying the knife, and accused him of ‘noncing’ his sister.

The appellant was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order for wounding with intention to do grievous bodily harm. He appealed, arguing that he should have been acquitted by virtue of the insanity defence. This was based on psychiatric evidence that while he knew his actions were illegal and understood their nature and purpose, he was unable to understand that they were morally wrong.

  1. Did the appellant qualify for the insanity defence?

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The fact that the appellant understood his actions and knew they were illegal was fatal to the insanity defence.

This Case is Authority For…

The insanity defence only applies if the defendant is suffering a defect of reason which renders them unable to understand the nature or quality of their actions or to now understand that the act is illegal.