R v Lipman [1970] 1 QB 152


Criminal - voluntary self-administration of drugs - intent - manslaughter


Robert Lipman was convicted of manslaughter for killing his friend while on a bad LSD trip. She suffered two blows to the head and died of asphyxia. He appealed against the conviction.


To what extent the law relating to unlawful killing under the influence of drinks or drugs was altered by s 8 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 (the Act).


The court held that s 8 of the Act required that an unlawful killing under the influence of drink or drugs had to amount to manslaughter as a minimum conviction. The court applied the test in R v Church [1966] 1 Q.B. 59, 69, whether a sober and reasonable man would foresee that there was a risk. It was further found that manslaughter required proof of mens rea to the extent that a sober and reasonable person could have foreseen the risks of taking drugs and some harm resulting. Determination of a guilty mind was necessary at a subjective level under the Act. In consideration of Lipman’s state of mind at the time of the incident, he was found to be intoxicated, therefore the court held that as drunkenness is no defence to a criminal charge, and see as there had deliberately been no distinction made between the effects of drugs and that of alcohol, Lipman was guilty as charged. The trial Judge’s finding was upheld in that Lipman knew that the acts performed on the victim were dangerous and likely to result in death, knew that drugs were dangerous and risked serious harm to another or himself and knew that taking drugs in those circumstances was grossly negligent and reckless. The appeal was dismissed and the conviction upheld.