Seun Oye v The Crown

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Justice Davis
Judgment Date11 October 2013
Neutral Citation[2013] EWCA Crim 1725
Docket NumberCase No: 201301720 C5
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Date11 October 2013

[2013] EWCA Crim 1725





Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL


Lord Justice Davis

Mr Justice Keith


Mr Justice Lewis

Case No: 201301720 C5

Seun Oye
The Crown

Mr J.B. Akin-Olugbade (instructed by Prime Solicitors) for the Appellant.

Ms Eve Macatonia (instructed by Crown Prosecution Services) for the Respondent.

Lord Justice Davis



This appeal has raised problems on the interconnection between an issue of self-defence and an issue of insanity. The potential difficulties arising have been compounded by the fact that they seem not to have been fully appreciated or confronted in the course of the trial below. To some extent, in fact, they only really emerged in the course of argument on the appeal, when the respective stances adopted at trial by the defence and prosecution had been clarified.


In essentials the central question raised is this. Did an insanely held delusion on the part of the appellant that he was being attacked or threatened, causing him violently to respond, entitle him to an acquittal on the basis of reasonable self-defence? This, among other things, involves consideration of the meaning and effect of s.76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 ("the 2008 Act").



The background is as follows.


The appellant is a man aged 29. Prior to the events in question he had no previous convictions. He apparently had at one stage held a respectable position in events management. He was convicted on 27 March 2013, after a trial lasting some days before Mr Recorder Peddie QC and a jury at Isleworth Crown Court, of two counts of affray and one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm contrary to s.20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. In due course he was sentenced to a term totalling 18 months' imprisonment.


The facts, in summary, were these. On 30 June 2011 the appellant was found in the staff room of a coffee shop in the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd's Bush. He was not an employee there. The manager, a Mr Flatau, was called. He confronted the appellant, whom he was to describe as "twitching in a strange manner". His general behaviour disconcerted Mr Flatau, who locked the changing room door. The police were called. When they arrived, the appellant had sought to hide in a void in the ceiling. The police entered and asked him to come down but he threw some crockery at the police, hitting PC Tarrant and causing very minor injury. He was asked to desist and come down but he did not do so. The incident escalated and crockery continued to be thrown. The appellant also had some piping or tubing with him. The dog unit and territorial support group were summoned.


In refusing requests to come down, the appellant at one stage gave as his reason: "because I'm selfish". He also said that he was reading a book. Ultimately, he was prevailed upon to come down and he did so, nevertheless holding a fire extinguisher which he aimed at one of the officers. By this stage the police had tasers but they decided that it was not necessary to use them. There was evidence that Mr Flatau was also present at some stage during the incident as it unfolded. These matters constituted the first count of affray.


The appellant was arrested and taken to the local police station, arriving there shortly after 7 p.m. A medical examination indicated a negative result for the presence of any drugs or alcohol, although a stated history of cannabis use was recorded. No medical or mental health issues were at that stage identified. Thereafter observation by CCTV in the cell indicated the appellant on occasion drinking from the lavatory cistern as well as gesticulating and talking to himself.


He was interviewed at 9.30 the following morning (1 July 2011). In the course of it he said that he "did not feel okay" but did not know what was wrong with him. He was returned to his cell, where he continued to behave strangely. At 12.45 p.m. he was seen in his cell by Mr Giacalone, a specialist drugs worker. The appellant told him that he wanted help for his problem with cannabis use. The appellant was throughout tense, with his fists clenched. Mr Giacalone was to say that he thought that the appellant had mental health problems. He said that the appellant's answers to questions made no sense. Mr Giacalone did not feel comfortable alone in the cell with the appellant and stopped the assessment. He opened the cell door and asked the appellant to sit on a bench in the custody suite.


As was captured on CCTV, and as was the subject of other evidence, the appellant then sought to move towards the exit of the custody suite. Sergeant Watts calmly approached him. The appellant then punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. He also punched a slight female police officer, PC Thompson, who had next intervened, hard in the face, displacing her teeth and fracturing her jaw (this was to constitute the s.20 count). The panic button was pressed. Other officers converged on the appellant. The appellant was very violent, lashing out at whoever came near him. Members of the public in the custody suite understandably moved away. PC Stuart was punched twice and another officer was scratched and gouged. The appellant was throughout shouting or shrieking or wailing. One of the officers described the appellant as appearing to be "absolutely manic in his behaviour". A description given by another officer that this was a "most violent outburst" entirely accords with the CCTV evidence. In the police log Sergeant Watts noted concerns that the appellant "may have acute behavioural disorder". This incident in the custody suite constituted the second affray count. After the appellant was overpowered and returned to his cell, observation continued to show him behaving very strangely.


The appellant was charged on 2 July 2011 and on that day "sectioned" under the relevant provisions of the Mental Health legislation. He was committed to hospital. The evidence was that initially while there he lay on his bed humming or "acting strangely".

The proceedings in the Crown Court and the medical evidence


A detailed defence statement was in due course served. The nature of the defence was expressly put on the basis "that he suffered a defect of reason caused by disease of the mind": that is, insanity. Very full particulars — in essentials, although not entirely, reflecting what he was to say in evidence at trial — were then given. In essence, the defence statement stated that the appellant woke up on the morning of 30 June 2011 feeling "paranoid"; that he felt that he was being "watched" and "pursued by evil spirits"; that "good spirits" guided him to the coffee shop; and that when in the staff room he believed the police were agents of the evil spirits and so he did not co-operate with them and thought they would harm him if he came down. At the police station, when he woke he felt that he had "acquired supernatural powers". He thought he could escape. He thought the police who came towards him ("rushed him") were "evil" and he started defending himself. He recalled throwing punches. Even at hospital he believed he was still in the clutches of evil spirits. There is, it may be noted, no reference in the defence statement to self-defence. However at trial the appellant sought, and was permitted, to introduce this as an issue.


Inevitably, given the circumstances, psychiatric evidence had been obtained.


The first report was from Dr Adegoke dated 15 June 2012. He had interviewed the appellant on 17 May 2012 although had first interviewed the appellant on 28 July 2011 at his clinic shortly after his discharge from hospital. The appellant was described at that time as "very co-operative". The appellant was recorded as saying at that time that he could not recall the events leading to his hospital admission but that he had increased his cannabis consumption in the prior two weeks. Subsequent reviews by Dr Adegoke had indicated no perceptual abnormalities. He was assessed as fit to stand trial. He had been under care for over a year and thus far had shown no evidence of a functional psychotic illness. The view was stated that the appellant at the time of the incident had "suffered from mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of cannibanoids". It was said that there was "clear evidence" that his increased cannabis use precipitated a psychotic state. The appellant was recorded as now well aware of the detrimental effect of cannabis on his mental state.


By addendum report dated 27 June 2012 Dr Adegoke emphasised that he had not seen the appellant on the day of the incident and therefore could not give a personal opinion about his mental state at the time of the incident, but had outlined his mental state as described soon after the incident.


A psychiatric report was also submitted by Dr Walsh. This was dated 9 January 2012. It was based on an interview of the appellant on 3 January 2012, although she had in fact herself seen the appellant at hospital in July 2011 (when he had been under her care) and had also reviewed his notes. She described him as, in effect, very disturbed on admission on 2 July 2011 and "perplexed…he had no idea what had happened". Thereafter he had improved rapidly with medication and had been discharged on 22 July 2011. Her conclusion was that the appellant had "presented [at the time of the incident] with a florid psychotic episode which took some months fully to resolve".



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