MENS REA CRIMINAL LAW A2 EDEXCEL

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CHAPTER 3: MENS REA

INTENTION (specific intent)

In the case of Mohan 1975 the courts defined intention as:

a decision to bring about, in so far as it lies within the accused's power (the prohibited consequence) no matter whether the accused desired that consequence of his act or not”

This makes it clear that D's motive/reason for doing the act is not relevant. The important point is that D decided to bring about the prohibited consequence. Mohan 1975 makes it clear that motive is not the same as intention and is not relevant in deciding whether D had intention.

Direct and oblique intent? In the majority of cases D has specific intent. This means that he intends a specific consequence to occur. However there can be situations where D intends one thing but the actual outcome is different (oblique intent):

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    • Hancock v Shankland 1986: intention was to stop the car not to kill the driver

Foresight of consequences? The main problem with providing intention is in cases where D's main aim was not the prohibited consequences. He intended something else. If in achieving the other thing, D foresaw that he would cause those consequences then he may be found guilty. This idea is referred to as foresight of consequences. The starting point for foresight of consequences is s8 Criminal Justice Act 1967. the wording has been the subject of several cases.

Case

Brief Facts

Law

Moloney 1985

D shot step-father in 'quick on draw' incident

Foresight of consequences is not intention; it is only evidence of intention

Hancock v Shankland 1986

Miner dropped lumps of concrete onto road, killing the taxi driver

The greater the probability of a consequence, the more likely it is that the consequence was foreseen and if that consequence was foreseen the greater the probability is that that consequence was also intended

Nedrick 1986

Poured paraffin through letter box, causing fire in the house in which a child died

Jury not entitled to infer the necessary intention unless sure that death or serious bodily harm was a virtual certainty and that D appreciated this

Woolin 1998

Threw a baby at pram, causing its death

The direction in Nedrick should not use the word infer. Instead, the jury should be told they are entitled to find intention

Re A 2000

Doctors wanted to operate on conjoined twins but knew this would cause one of them to die

Court thought that Woolin made it law that foresight of consequence is intention

Matthews and Alleyne 2003

Threw V into river where he drowned

Woolin meant that foresight of consequences in not intention. It is a rule of evidence. If a jury decides that D foresaw the virtual certainty of death or serious injury then they are entitled to find intention but they do not have to do so.

Problems with the decision in Woolin

  • the word infer is used in s8 CJA 1967 and this is presumably why it was used in Nedrick. Does this

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