Court of Appeal (Putrajaya)

Defence of Insanity


1.     The accused (“Appellant”) was found guilty of murder and given the death penalty by the learned High Court judge. The charge is written as follows:

“Bahawa kamu pada 12.08.2010, jam lebih kurang 8.30 pagi, bertempat di hadapan rumah No. 13, Jalan Sekolah, Pelabuhan Klang, di dalam Daerah Klang, di dalam Negeri Selangor Darul Ehsan, dengan niat telah melakukan kesalahan bunuh hingga menyebabkan kematian dengan menetak leher Teo Chai Hock, No. KPT 400918-10-5213 menggunakan sebilah parang dan adalah dengan ini kamu telah melakukan kesalahan yang boleh dihukum di bawah Seksyen 302 Kanun Keseksaan.”

2.     The major eyewitnesses, SP4 and SP8, who both observed the Appellant attacking the dead with a parang, provided the testimony that served as the foundation for the prosecution’s case.

3.     While walking down the hallway, SP4 noticed her deceased father-in-law coming home after a jog. However, SP4 noticed the Appellant suddenly approached the deceased and swung the parang at him, striking him before the deceased could open the gate.

4.     The dispute between the Appellant and the deceased was observed by a security guard (“SP8”) at a nearby school.   SP8 claimed that the Appellant approached the deceased first and began shouting arguments in Chinese.

5.     SP4 had eye witnessed that the Appellant sliced the deceased’s neck three times before the victim collapsed to the ground on the highway.

6.     The Appellant then rode his motorbike into the grounds of his home, cleaned his hands and lodged a police report.

7.     The deceased’s post-mortem examination concluded that the neck injury was what caused him to pass away.


Whether the Appellant may rely on the defence of insanity in the form of automatism for murder charge?


1.     The Court dealt with the Appellant’s complaint that the defence of automatism or attack of hypoglycaemia was not appropriately considered by the learned trial judge.

2.     The Court took most consideration with the finding of facts of the trial judge regarding the defence of unawareness or automatism by reason of hypoglycaemia must fail.

3.     As per the trial in High Court, both the Appellant and the prosecution had called in their own expert witnesses.

4.     In deciding whose evidence to be accepted, the learned trial judge held that the field of SD4, the expert called by the Appellant is on psychiatry, while SP11, the expert called by the prosecution is an endocrinologist, the right field for diabetes and hypoglycaemia.

5.     Therefore, the learned trial judge had accepted the evidences of SP11 as follows:

“(1) For an attack of hypoglycemia, there would be symptoms/warning signs like hunger and weakness in the case of the accused there was no such symptoms.

(2) A person in a hypoglycemia state would not be able to perform ‘an act that required strength, repeatatively is impossible’. In this case the accused slashed the deceased at three places, acts which a person under such an attack could not have done.”

6.     The Court took the same stand as the learned trial judge and seen no reason to disturb the findings on the issue of automatism.

7.     In addition, the Court held that the judge is having no duty to be bound by or accept expert evidence as per Section 45 of the Evidence Act 1950.

8.       Therefore, the Court is of the view that it is difficult to even fathom how automatism of any kind becomes applicable in assessing an acquittal or reduction of charge.

Decision The Court of Appeal found that the appellate intervention is not necessary, therefore, the appeal is dismissed.
Key Take Away

1.     Automatism is one of the mental conditions that are seen variously as lack of voluntariness, lack of culpability or unconsciousness. It is relating to the mental state of an individual that may be raised as a defence under the criminal law.

2.     Nevertheless, there are various cause of automatism which may be seen in the following circumstances:

(a)  caused by a disease of the mind;

(b)  caused by self-induced intoxication;

(c)  caused by self-induced incapacity, other than intoxication due to consumption of alcohol or drugs; and

(d)  partial destruction of voluntary control of the patient



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