The Criminal Attempts Act 1981
The common law offence of attempt was abolished by the Criminal Attempts Act 1981.
The 1981 act is a codifying act. This means that the "natural meaning" of the statutory words must be considered first but, if any provision is "of doubtful import", then previous cases may be referred to. They are not binding, but are pursuasive.
At common law, there was a variety of tests used by the courts to determine whether D had done an act which could be described as "an attempt" to commit an offence... "Last Act" test (or Proximity test), "Rubicon" test, "Series of acts" test.
The Actus Reus - Attempts
- Section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 provides... that "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 the offence"
- The test of whether D's acts have gone beyond the merely preparatory stage is essentially a question of fact for the jury! (s.4(3) of the 1981 act)
"More than merely preparatory"
- So when is D guilty of an attempt? = well it's when they have gone beyond the "merely preparatory" stage!
- But when is that? in the case of Jones (1990)...
The defendant decided to kill his love rival who was seeing his ex girlfriend. He underwent a number of acts which lead up to him coming face to face with his victim. e.g. obtaining the gun, shortening the barrel, loading the gun, disguising himself etc.
Taylor LJ said that all of the acts above were clearly preparatory acts however once Jones had got into the car and pointed the loaded gun -…