AS Law Cases - Criminal

Mens Rea

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R v Woolin

Defines: intention

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The D violently shook his 3-month-old baby and then threw him across the room against his pram. The baby died. The D admitted later that the baby had hit the floor hard, but he didnít think that it would kill him, although he accepted that there was a risk of injury. The trial judge told the jury that they might infer intention if they were satisfied that the D appreciated the substantial risk of serious harm by throwing the child. The D was convicted of murder and appealed on the grounds that such a direction might have misled the jury as to the degree of foresight required.

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and stated that while the words ëvirtually certainí as in Nedrick were preferable, it was not a misdirection to juries if it was made clear that the decision was theirs.

However, when the case reached the House of Lords their Lordships decided that the judge had confused the jury by his comments about a substantial risk and since it was impossible to know which the of two statements the jury had followed this must be considered a material misdirection.

Consequently, D was acquitted of Murder and a substitute charge of Manslaughter was established

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R v Cunningham


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In this case the defendant tore the metre from a gas line intending to steal the money from it. The gas leaked and caused damage. The defendant was liable for the damage

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R v Latimer

Transferred Malice

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The defendant aimed a blow with a belt at a man in a pub after that man had attacked him. The belt bounced off the man and struck a woman in the face. Latimer was guilty of assault against the woman although he had not meant to hit her.

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Fagan v Metropolitan Police

Coincidence of Actus Reus and Mens Rea

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Fagan was told by the police officer to park on the kerb. In doing this Fagan drove on the policeman's foot without realising that he had done so. Initially fagan refused to move the car. The policeman pointed out what had happened and asked fagan several times to move the car,. Eventually fagan did move the car.

The court of Appeal held that once Fagan knew the car was on the police officers foot he had the required mens rea. As the actus reus was still continuing the two elements then present together.

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