We observe with interest the growth in judicial favour of the doctrine of modified responsibility in mental disease. Two interesting cases in which it has been applied were “Keg. v. Warboys” (Central Criminal Court, June 21st, 1895) and “Reg. v. Collins” (London County Sessions, April 29tb, 1895). In the first case Warboys, a labourer in Peckham, was charged with having murdered his wife. The fact was admitted, and the only question really in issue was whether the circumstances that the prisoner had suffered great provocation, and that his mind had been affected by a sunstroke received in India, reduced his offence from murder to manslaughter, and entitled him to a mitigation of punishment. The jury decided the first point in the prisoner's favour by convicting him of manslaughter only, and the Judge (Mr. Justice Wright) let him off with five years' penal servitude. In the second case to which we have referred, the defendant Collins, a dentist, was indicted for stealing at his club. The plea set up was not insanity, but a series of nervous headaches aggravated by influenza, and the death of a near relative. Medical evidence was called, and it was urged that though the accused was not insane his mind was to some extent affected, and sufficiently so to negative any presumption of felonious intent. The jury brought in a verdict of “Not guilty.” These are two satisfactory instances of the growth of a judicial practice which, if it become general, will tend to prevent not only unjust convictions and punishments, but equally unjust acquittals attributable to the determination of juries to achieve “a great right” by doing “a little wrong.”
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