SL CoA | Conviction for murder set aside for misdirection on the standard of proof directed to the jury

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Division Bench of K.K. Wickremasinghe and K. Priyantha Fernando, JJ., allowed an appeal.

The Accused-Appellant was indicted for committing the murder of his own father, this case was a jury trial. During the proceedings in the High Court, Dr Neil Fernando had testified that the Appellant was suffering from schizophrenia and therefore he was not in a normal state of mind at the time he was committing the offence. The counsel for the Appellant, Chathura Galhena, had submitted that actus reus was admitted at the trial but mens rea was challenged by the defence on insanity. While the High Court judge was summing up the jury, he did not direct the jury on the defence of insanity and thereby there was a fatal non-direction by the High Court Judge.

The Court while setting aside the conviction for murder stated that since it was an admitted fact that the act was committed by the accused but it was misdirection on the standards of proof directed to the jury, thus this Court directs the Registrar to send this case back to the High Court to act under Section 381 and 382 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act. [Suranjith Jagoda v. Hon. Attorney General, HCC-0133-09, decided on 17-01-2020]

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