MR & Subjective recklessness

Cases & the development of the law (chronologically) in relation to the Mens Rea & Subjective Recklessness

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  • Created on: 15-06-11 11:48
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Mental Blameworthiness
- Intention
- Recklessness
- Negligence
(All for murder)
"D's aim or objective is to kill/seriously injure"
Big problem is where D's intention is not the forbidden consequence but an intention to do
something else
If D saw that by achieving this `something else' he would also cause those forbidden consequences,
he may be con. of those consequences
This is called foresight of consequence (f.o.c)
Smith 1961 HL
PO tried to stop a car in a robbery by clinging to the bonnet; killed
D said didn't want to kill; intention was to escape
Con. of M
HL seemed to say a person intended death or GBH if a reasonable person would have
foreseen that death or GBH would have resulted from D's act even if D didn't actually
foresee it himself
ie. An objective test ­ shouldn't be
S8 Crim. Justice Act 1967
Brought in due to problems with Smith
"A crt or jury, in determining whether a person has committed and off. shall;
1) Not be bound by law to infer that he intended or foresaw a result of his actions by
reason only of it's being a natural & probably consequence of those actions
2) Dec. whether he did intend/foresee that result by reference to all the evidence, drawing
such inferences from the evidence as appear proper in the circumstances."
Hyam 1975 HL
D's put flaming newspaper through letterbox of ex, while away on hols
V's two kids killed in resulting fire

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D said didn't want to kill; aim to start fire and scare V
Con. upheld
HL said; "If D foresaw the consequences of their actions, that means they intended the
ie. f.o.c equates to intention
Problem; diff. to separate this from subjective recklessness
Moral difference between wanting the consequences and merely foreseeing it
Moloney 1985 HL
Overruled Hyam; f.o.…read more

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Nedrick 1989
D set fire to paraffin he poured through letterbox, killing a child
Con. of M. but quashed by CA & subb'd for con. of M/S
Lord Lane; Confirmed Maloney in that intent isn't f.o.c
Dir.…read more

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No stat. definition
Cases don't define it, just issue guidelines as to how to dec. whether intention existed or not
Diff. juries reach diff. conclusions and dec's; inconsistency
Don't know why juries dec. and no input from crt
Juries may still equate f.o.c w/intention (esp. in emotive cases)
Don't understand & no way of knowing if they do or not
Diff. to prod. a def.…read more

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D is aware of risks but dec. to take it anyway and it is unreasonable for D to do so
No stat. def.
Needed for ABH, S20 GBH & Crim. dam.
R v Cunningham 1957 CA
D tore gas meter off side of house to get money inside
Gas leaked into next door's house and caused illness in resident
Char.…read more

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Subjective meaning used, initially, then objective, now sub. again
If D intended to commit a similar off. on one person but fell against another
Latimer 1886
D aimed blow w/belt at man
Fell against someone else, V
Con. of ABH against her
If completely diff. crime committed, may not be guilty
Pembliton 1874
D threw stone, intending to hit someone but instead committed crim. dam.
Found not guilty
If general malice, ie.…read more


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