R v Allen [1988] Crim LR 698


Criminal - defence of involuntary self-administration of alcohol - indecent assault


Mr Allen consumed homemade wine that unknowingly to him was much stronger than he initially thought. As such, it had a much stronger effect on him than he anticipated. He sexually assaulted a person while under the influence of alcohol. He relied on the defence of involuntary intoxication and pleaded that he could not be responsible for his actions.


Whether Allen’s consumption of alcohol could be considered involuntary.


It was held that Allen’s drinking had been a voluntary act and that ignorance as to the strength of the alcohol being consumed was no defence. As he had chosen to drink alcohol, he should have known or ought to have known the risks of consumption. The Court distinguished the Court of Appeal judgment of R. v Kingston (Barry) (1993) 97 Cr. App. R. 401, (later overturned by the House of Lords),where it was found that the consumption of drugs resulting in a bad trip had essentially done away with the defendant’s inhibitions, which was enough to negative the necessary mental element and the mens rea of the act. Even if the alcohol had done away with Allen’s inhibitions subsequently causing him to commit the offences, it was still not enough to negative the necessary mental element required to do the crimes. He would have been aware of what he was doing and the nature of his conduct, however drunk. Drunkenness was reinstated as being no defence to a crime. The appeal was dismissed and the conviction upheld.