• In the case of Lipman [1970] 1 QB 152, it was affirmed by the Court of Appeal that voluntary intoxication would not be a defence to a charge of manslaughter as that is an offence of basic intent, not specific intent.

Facts of Lipman [1970] 1 QB 152

  • Both D and V were addicted to drugs, and took LSD one night
  • A couple of days later, D (US citizen), in a hurry, booked his hotel and left the country for the USA
  • The next day, V was found dead in her room by her landlord
  • She had suffered from blows in the head, causing a bleed on the brain, and died from asphyxia
  • D was extradited and gave evidence of going to V’s room with her and being on a ‘LSD trip’
  • He said, whilst on this trip, he felt he was being attacked by snakes and attacked them
  • D argued he did not have the necessary intention to kill or cause GBH, he appealed his conviction of unlawful act manslaughter stating the defence of voluntary intoxication applied

Issues in Lipman [1970] 1 QB 152

  • Could voluntary intoxication be a defence to the specific intent crime of manslaughter?

Held by the Court of Appeal

Appeal dismissed, and the conviction was upheld.

Lord Justice Wiggerly

Wiggerly LJ stated “For the purposes of criminal responsibility we see no reason to distinguish between the effect of drugs voluntarily taken and drunkenness voluntarily induced”, citing cases such as DPP v Beard [1920] and Bratty v AG for Northern Ireland [1963] for the latter [156]

R v Church [1966] did not introduce a new element as to the intention or foresight of harm arising from a charge of manslaughter [158]

  • “the issue was concluded against him if ordinary sober and reasonable people would recognise that harm was likely to be caused. But it is nevertheless maintained that the theoretical basis of guilt was the prisoner’s supposed intent or foresight”

In the present case:

  • “no specific intent has to be proved to convict of manslaughter, and self-induced intoxication is accordingly no defence. the acts complained of were obviously likely to cause harm to the victim (and did, in fact, kill her) no acquittal was possible and the verdict of manslaughter, at the least, was inevitable” [159]