This chapter in the Folio Society‘s collection of historical trials was pretty topical, as it involved an attempted assassination attempt on the Prime Minister, Robert Peel. By a stroke of fortune for Peel, MacNaghten mistook his secretary Edward Drummond for the minister and shot him instead. Drummond died of his wound a short time later.
The case was put to trial and the shooter was let off by reason of insanity and committed for life to an institution. This left a bad taste in the mouth of many, including Queen Victoria who was aghast that a man who was in control enough to plan and execute his plot and conceal his intent was considered unable to distinguish right from wrong.
After the case the House of Lords approved some guidelines about the level of proof needed for an insanity defense for future cases.
- Notable Historical Trials IV – Burke and Hare (kilobooks.wordpress.com)
- Notable Historical Trials III – Queen Caroline (kilobooks.wordpress.com)
- Notable Historical Trials III – Abraham Thornton (kilobooks.wordpress.com)