Slides in this set
Criminal Attempts Act 1981
In section 1 of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981, attempt is described as:
"If, with intent to commit an offence to which this section applies, a
person does an act which is more than merely preparatory to the
commission of the offence, he is guilty of attempting to commit an
· This act imposes liability on the defendant who intends to commit a
crime, but for some reason fails to complete the actus reus. The act
ensures that the defendant can still be prosecuted.
· Jones (1990) was found that an attempt is where someone is
intending to do something.…read more
Actus reus of attempt
· In short, the actus reus of attempt is where a person does an act
which is `more than merely preparatory' to the commission of the
offence. This was decided in R v Bowles (2004).
· Before attempt was defined in 1981, the courts used a series of tests
to decide whether the defendant had actually done enough in order
to be convicted. These where the `last act' test as decided in
Stonehouse (1978) and the `proximity' test found in Eagleton
· The courts have since held these tests irrelevant. They then decided
that the statement `more than merely preparatory' was suffice.
· An example of this is in White (1910) D put cyanide in his mothers
drink, intending to kill her. She dies of a heart attack before she
could drink it. He tried to commit murder even though she could not
actually drink it. He was found guilty.
· An attempt must be created by an act and not an omission.…read more
Cases showing `mere preparation'
AG Reference (1993)
· D dragged a girl up some steps to a shed. He lowered his trousers and interfered
with her private parts. His penis remained flaccid. He argued that he could not
therefore attempt to commit rape. His conviction for attempted rape was upheld.
Looking at D's acts, this seems a sensible decision. However if he had been stopped
immediately after he had dragged the girl to the shed and lowered her trousers or
interfered with her, then it is unlikely that he could have been convicted. His act of
dragging her was `merely preparatory'.
· D was found in the boys toilets in a school carrying a large kitchen knife, some rope
and some masking tape. He had not contacted any of the pupils. His conviction for
attempted false imprisonment was quashed.
· D, who had an imitation gun, sunglasses and rope in his pocket, was in the street
outside a post office. His conviction for attempted robbery was quashed. If he had
entered the post office then that would be more than `merely preparatory'.
· D jumped onto a race track in order to have the race declared void and to enable him
reclaim the money he had bet on the race. His conviction for attempting to steal was
quashed because his action was `merely preparatory' to committing the offence.…read more
Cases in which there was an attempt
Boyle and Boyle (1987)
· The defendants were found standing by a door of which the lock and
one hinge were broken. Their conviction for attempted burglary was
upheld. They found that trying to gain entry was an attempt and
therefore they were guilty.
· D intended to burgle the premises. He took metal cutting equipment
with him and hid it behind a hedge near to the premises. He then
examined the padlock on the door. He did not damage the padlock.
He was found guilty of attempted burglary.
· D's partner told him that she wanted their relationship to end and
that she was seeing another man, V. D bought a shotgun and then
found V who was in his car. D, who was wearing a crash helmet with
the visor down, got into V's car and pointed the gun at V. V grabbed
the gun and threw it out of the window. Guilty of attempted
Mens rea of attempt
· In short, the mens rea of attempt is the intent to commit that
· The defendant must possess the same intention as what would be
required if the full offence was committed. If the prosecution cannot
prove this intent that the defendant cannot be guilty of the attempt.
· This was shown in Easom (1971) D picked up a woman's handbag
in the cinema but then put it back without taking anything. Because
there was no evidence that D wanted to take any items. He was
found not guilty.
· A similar decision was found in Husseyn (1977) D and another man
were seen loitering near the back of a van. When the police
approached, they ran off. D was convicted of attempting to steal
scuba equipment. But this was quashed.
· Conditional intent is where D intends to commit an offence only if
certain conditions are satisfied. For example, burglars looking to
steal something specific see Easom (1971).…read more