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Principles - mens rea - recklessness - relevant cases

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Relevant cases

R v Cunningham [1957] CA

Applicable to

  • Theft Act offences;

  • offences against the person;

  • common law offences;

  • rape


R v Cunningham [1957] [gas meter, neighbour became ill]


R v Savage and Parmenter [1992] [threw beer, and inadvertently glass over rival for boyfriend. It is enough that she should have foreseen that some physical harm, albeit of a minor character, might result. Guilty]


R v Pigg (1982) [rape 15 and 17 yr. olds, indifferent, and gave no thought, if he had there would have been obvious risk (of wrong penetration) not aware of possibility but persisted regardless. Not Guilty on other grounds - majority verdicts]


R v Adomako (1994) anaesthetist, tube fell out during eye operation, manslaughter = gross negligence, not recklessness]


R v Spratt (1990) [pellets miss target hit 7 yr. old]


R v Satnam and Kewal (1984) [joint rape 13 yr. old girl Betty, both indifferent to her feelings, couldn’t care less attitude. Not guilty]

Relevant cases

Caldwell /Lawrence

For all practical purposes limited to some regulatory offences [e.g. Data Protection] following R v G and another [2003] HL]


Previously relevant cases are here

May still have some relevance to gross negligence manslaughter:

R v Adomako (1994) [can be used to explain gross negligence in manslaughter which has replaced Recklessness]


and some regulatory offences;


Data Protection Registrar v Amnesty International [1995] [includes regulatory offences under Caldwell Recklessness;]

Relevant cases

The Caldwell Lacuna

Cases which failed to establish the ‘lacuna’*


R v Lamb [1967] [two bullets in chamber, thought no risk.= not guilty]


R v Crossman [1986] [unsafe lorry load ‘safe as houses’ changed his plea, should have maintained ‘lacuna’ plea = guilty]


R v Reid (1992) [undertakes, hits protruding hut, considers risk but mistake as to specific fact = careless driving. Taking a risk to avoid an emergency is not reckless]

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