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16 Jul 2020

Attempted murder insanity acquittal – Oliver Saxby QC defending

A 33-year old man of effective previous good character, Joel Jueanville, has been found ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ of the attempted murder of a complete stranger who he stabbed repeatedly in a pub garden in May 2019.

The defence argued that Mr Jueanville was suffering from a schizophrenic delusion at the time which led him to him believe that he needed to attack the victim in self-defence. Hence, he did not know that what he was doing was wrong – the second of the two insanity limbs. The burden of establishing insanity lay on the defence, on the balance of probabilities.

In support, the defence called two consultant forensic psychiatrists, Drs Rogers and Bisht. The defence also placed reliance on a third psychiatrist, Dr Mala Singh, a witness abandoned by the Crown.

The Crown contended that Mr Jueanville did know that what he was doing was wrong and that the defence of insanity therefore did not apply. Instead, they asked for a conviction on the offence of attempted murder.

They placed reliance on two experts, Dr Tariq (from the Trevor Gibbens Unit, where the defendant was being treated) and Dr Jag Singh (who they called).

Following Dr Singh’s evidence – and in the light of his responses to detailed and rigorous cross-examination by the defence – the Crown conceded that they could no longer sensibly invite the jury to reject the defence of insanity.

Having been made aware of this position, the jury duly entered a verdict of ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’.

The case was a complex one involving intricate psychiatric evidence touching on schizophrenia, the hiding of symptoms and the extent to which safe inferences could be drawn from what someone experiencing a schizophrenic episode said or did during and after the event.

Issues also arose as to the competence of some of the expert evidence presented; and the case gave rise to a significant ruling from the learned judge on the steps to be taken by the jury in determining mens rea in insanity trials.

The trial took place under the Covid provisions and involved the substantial use of remote technology, with the defendant appearing live from the Trevor Gibbens Unit.

Oliver Saxby QC was leading Ronnie Manek of GT Stewart Solicitors and Advocates.