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Cases - assaults - actus reus

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Arobieke, R v [1988] CA

Barnes, R v  (2004) CA

Belfon, R v [1976] CA

Brown and Stratton, R v [1998] CA

Bryson, R v [1985] CA

Burstow, R v [1997] HL

Chan-Fook, R v (1994) CA

Clarence, R v (1888) CCR

Collins v Wilcock (1984) QBD

Constanza, R v [1997] CA

Cox (Paul), R v (1998) CA

Day, R v (1845) Parke B

Dica, R v (1993) Crown Court

Dica R v 2005 (CA)

Dolbey, W (A minor) v [1983] DC

Dume, R v (1986) CA

F v West Berkshire Health Authority [1989] HL

Farrell, R v [1989] CA

Flack v Hunt (1979) QBD

Ireland, Burstow, R v (1997) HL

JJC v Eisenhower (1983) QBD

Johnson, R v (1986) CA

K, DPP v (1990) QBD

Lamb, R v [1967] CA

Lewis v Cox [1985] QBD

Little, DPP v (1992) QBD

Logdon v DPP [1976] QBD

Lynsey, R v [1995] CA

Mandair, R v (1994) HL

Martin, R v (1881) CCR

Mead & Belt's Case (1823)

Miller, R v (1954) Winchester Assizes

Moriaty v Brooks (1834) CP

Morrison, R v (1989) CA

Mowatt, R v (1967) CA

Pembliton, R v (1874) CCR

Purcell, R v (1986) CA

Read v Coker (1853) CP

Richardson & Irwin [1999] CA

Roberts, R v (1971) CA

Santana-Bermudez, DPP v (2003) DC

Saunders, R v (1985) CA

Savage (1), Parmenter(2) , R v (1992) HL

Smith, DPP v [2006] QBD

Smith, DPP v [1960] HL

Smith v Chief Superintendent of Woking Police Station (1983) QBD

Spratt, R v [1991] CA

Stephens v Myers (1830) CA

Stubbs, R v (1989) CA

Thomas, R v (1985) CA

Turberville v Savage (1669)

Venna, R v (1975) CA

Wilson v Pringle [1986] CA

Wilson, R v [1955] CCA

Wilson, R v (1984) HL


 

Arobieke, R v [1988] CA

 

Red Triangle indicates "Must Know" information

 

Appeal here

^[Assault – actus reus]

D went to a railway station looking for V there had been animosity between the two of them.  There was evidence that V feared serious violence if D found him.  V left his train and was electrocuted trying to cross the tracks.  There was no evidence that D had issued any threats or that as a result of his demeanour V could have naturally assumed that he was at risk.

 

Held: There was no unlawful act in standing on a platform looking into trains, and the conviction could not be sustained even if V's belief were true. There was insufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that an assault had been committed.

 

Not Guilty

Also here

Barnes, R v  (2004) CA

 

[Assault – exceeding rules of game not always an assault]
D caused a serious leg injury during a tackle during an amateur football match. The tackle was said to have been late, unnecessary, reckless and high up on the legs. D stated that that whilst the tackle may well have been ‘hard’, it was a fair sliding tackle in the course of play, resulting in unintended accidental injury. 

Held: Criminal proceedings should be reserved for those situations where the conduct was sufficiently grave properly to be categorised as criminal.

 

Most sports had their own disciplinary procedures that would cater for improper behaviour on pitch. Physical injury was an inevitable risk of sport, and those participating consented to such injury.

 

Even conduct outside of the rules of the game may not be criminal. An instinctive error, reaction or misjudgement in the heat of a game was not to be equated with criminal activity.

Not guilty

Belfon, R v [1976] CA

^[Assault – mens rea - specific intent needed for Sec 18]
D pushed a girl to the ground, and he and an accomplice attacked those who came to help her. D slashed one man with a razor, causing severe wounds to his head and chest, and was charged with wounding with intent.

Held: He had certainly foreseen the risk of such consequences, but it had not been proved that he had the specific intent required for the more serious offence; recklessness does not suffice for s 18.

Not Guilty of s.18 Guilty 20 unlawful wounding
 

Per curiam: In directing a jury in relation to a charge under s 18 of 1861 Act it is unnecessary for the judge to explain the meaning of ‘intent’. He should direct the jury that what has to be proved is

(1) the wounding;

(2) the wounding was deliberate and without justification;

(3) it was committed with intent to cause really serious bodily harm, and

(4) the test of the intent is subjective.

Brown and Stratton, R v [1998] CA

 

^[Assault - Sec 18 drunken intent – drunken mens rea]
D1 and D2, cousins severely beat D1's father who had gender reassignment and caused the young men embarrassment. They had been drinking, and caused her nasty injuries.

 

Held: Intention to be judged objectively. Not subjectively from the stand point of the victim.

In a case requiring a specific intent, such as a s 18 offence. Did D have specific intent?

 

D was drunk and that if, because he was drunk, he did not intend or may not have intended to cause the requisite degree of harm, then the defendant is entitled to be acquitted.

 

Both Guilty

Bryson, R v [1985] CA

^[Assault – jury to decide if foresight sufficient to be intent]
D wounded, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, by driving his car directly at three men.

 

Held: Foresight that serious harm would probably happen is not the same as intention to cause grievous bodily harm and following R v Moloney, the step from foresight to intention was one of inference to be taken by the jury not by the judge.

 

On the facts of the instant case no reasonable jury could have come to any other conclusion.

 

Guilty

Burstow, R v [1997] HL

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault – inflict GBH includes psychiatric harm]
D a naval petty officer inflicted grievous bodily harm to V after she broke off their relationship. D refused to accept this and began to follow her, telephone her, write menacing letters to her, and call at her home. V suffered severe clinical depression as a result.

 

Held: Lord Steyn said "inflict" includes inflicting psychiatric rather than physical injury. Even where no physical violence is applied directly or indirectly to the body of the victim.

 

Guilty

Chan-Fook, R v (1994) CA

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault - ABH - includes psychiatric harm but not emotions – escape case]
D subjected V to questioning about the theft of a ring belonging to D's fiancée. D then dragged V upstairs to a room and locked him in. V feared D's return and injured himself when he fell to the ground escaping through a window.

 

Held:

"Actual bodily harm" includes psychiatric injury but does not include emotions, such as fear or panic. ABH does not include states of mind that are not themselves evidence of some identifiable clinical condition. Only expert evidence to this effect should be made to the jury regarding psychiatric injury.

 

Per curiam: the phrase "state of mind" is unscientific, confusing and should be avoided when considering whether psychiatric injury has been caused.

 

Not Guilty

Clarence, R v (1888) CCR

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault - transmitting disease - not an offence by husband]
D knew, but his wife did not know, that he was suffering from gonorrhoea, he had connection with her, that the result was that the disease was communicated to her, and that, had she been aware of his condition, she would not have submitted to the intercourse. 

 

Held: D's conduct did not constitute an offence. 

 

Not Guilty
This case now doubted by
R v Dica

Collins v Wilcock (1984) QBD

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault - definition of - apprehension of immediate force - mens rea is recklessness or intention - everyday jostling is not assault]
D refused to speak to a policewoman. The WPC took hold of D's arm to restrain her. D scratched the WPC's arm.

 

Held: Goff LJ:

'An assault is an act which causes another person to apprehend the infliction of immediate, unlawful, force on his person; a battery is the actual infliction of unlawful force on another person ... any touching of another person, however slight, may amount to battery.'

 

"Consent is a defence to battery; and most of the physical contacts of ordinary life are not actionable because they are impliedly consented to by all who move in society and so expose themselves to the risk of bodily contact… it is more common nowadays to treat…everyday jostling…as falling within a general exception embracing all physical contact which is generally acceptable in the ordinary conduct of daily life."

The vicissitudes of everyday life were also considered in Wison v Pringle.

 

Not Guilty

Constanza, R v [1997] CA

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

 

^[Assault - Sec 47 - actus - sufficient proximity -psychological damage from fear of violence - – lose interpretation of ‘immediate’ – can include words alone]
D wished to form a relationship with V who did not reciprocate. D followed V sent her more than 800 letters, telephoned her on numerous occasions, only speaking sometimes, watched her house from his car and wrote on her door. V suffered from a clinical state of depression and anxiety.

 

Held: It was not essential that the victim was able to see the potential perpetrator of the violence. Conduct accompanying words was capable of making the words an assault. The fear was of violence sufficiently immediate to be described as the fear of immediate violence.

 

Guilty

Cox (Paul), R v (1998) CA

 

Whole case here

[Assault - continuing acts, no need to specify particular event]

D had ended his relationship with Sandra he made silent phone calls, frequently lurked or prowled around outside her flat and allegedly left underneath a dustbin lid on the front doorstep a severed chicken's head on a bible.

He threatened her by drawing his finger across his throat twice.

Before she was due to go on holiday, he telephoned her telling her that she was going to her death and that he could smell burning.

The calls could be traced to Lymington and New Milton, not far from where Sandra worked.

Medical evidence showed it had caused her actual bodily harm in the forms of anxiety, depression, distress, insomnia and loss of weight.
 

Held: It is absurd to suggest that the jury should have to consider each telephone call, one by one, but might that the majority of them were made by D, the jury must be asked to apply their common-sense.

 

Guilty ABH

Day, R v (1845) Parke B

[Assault - slashing clothes on person is an assault]
D slashed P's clothes with a knife.

 

Held: It is an assault on a man's person to inflict injury to the clothes on his back. In the ordinary case of a blow on the back there is clearly an assault, even though the blow is received by the coat on the person.

 

Guilty

Dica, R v (2003) Crown Court

 

News report here

^[Assault - biological GBH]

D infected two women with HIV. Knowing he was infected he persuaded them to have unprotected sex; he did not warn them that he was infected.
 

Held: Guilty of causing grievous bodily harm. Sentenced to 8 years.

Note: Clarence (1888) is now doubted.

Dica R v 2005 (CA)

[Assaults – GBH – inflicting HIV is GBH, although consent should be considered by the jury]
D was convicted on a retrial because he infected a woman with HIV – so called biological GBH – (s 20). His appeal in 2004 resulted in the retrial, the Court of Appeal ruling that the original trial judge should have allowed the jury to consider consent as a defence. At the retrial the judge followed the Court of Appeal ruling at the earlier appeal.

Held: The court was bound by previous authority.

In their earlier authority they had confined themselves to reflecting that unless you were prepared to take whatever risk of sexually transmitted infection there might be, it was unlikely that you would consent to a risk of major consequent illness if you were ignorant of it.

Appeal to the House of Lords refused, but they certified a point of law of general pubic importance.
4 ½ years imprisonment was held not to be excessive.
 

Dolbey, W (A minor) v [1983] DC

^[Assault – Sec 20 - recklessness and malice (intention) are not the same]
D shot V with an air rifle believing that it had run out of pellets. Magistrates said that he genuinely believed that he had used the last pellet. He ignored the risk that it might be loaded and so D was reckless.

 

Held: In Caldwell, malice and recklessness were clearly distinguished. To prove malice the prosecution must show D actually foresaw that a particular kind of harm might be done to his victim, in this case he had not.

 

Not guilty

Dume, R v (1986) CA

^[Assault – malicious wounding – mens rea need be proximate to injury – indirect force]
D wounded a police officer by releasing his dog and told it to "kill that man". The dog went up to P, knocked him over, and bit him on the leg. D argued that the dog's act was the result of its natural exuberance.

 

Held: A charge of malicious wounding might in principle be appropriate in such a case, there is a need to find some act of the defendant, committed with the necessary mens rea, that had been the proximate cause of V's injury. The actions of D were not connected to the actions of the dog, if they were the dog could be viewed as a weapon.

 

Not Guilty

F v West Berkshire Health Authority [1989] HL

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^[Assault – some actions are not hostile]
Doctors sought permission to sterilise a 36-year-old woman with a mental age of five, who had become sexually active but who because of her condition she was incapable of giving informed consent; other forms of contraception were inappropriate.

 

Held: Lord Goff:

"….a man who seizes another and forcibly drags him from the path of an oncoming vehicle, thereby saving him from injury or even death, commits no wrong."

He doubted any requirement of hostility such as was suggested in Wilson v Pringle: a prank getting out of hand, or an over-friendly slap on the back, or surgery carried out by a doctor who mistakenly thought he had the patient's consent - any touching without lawful excuse, in fact - was capable of being an assault.

 

The vicissitudes of everyday life

"Again it is well settled that most of the almost inevitable physical contacts of everyday life: the jostling experienced by travellers on public transport or indeed by pedestrians on busy pavements, the touching to obtain attention, the congratulatory slap on the back and the unwelcomely firm handshake: all are lawful."

Sterilisation allowed

Ireland, Burstow, R v (1997) HL

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

 

^[Assault - phone calls - apprehension of immediate force]
D's (separate trials) made a large number of telephone calls to women and remaining silent when they answered. A psychiatrist stated that as a result of the repeated telephone calls each of them had suffered psychological damage.

 

Held: "Inflict bodily harm" as used in sections 20 and 47 included the infliction of psychiatric injury on another and did not mean that whatever caused the harm had to be applied directly to the victim.

 

An assault might be committed by words or gestures alone, depending on the circumstances; and that where the making of a silent telephone call caused fear of immediate and unlawful violence; the caller would be guilty of an assault.

 

Lord Steyn;

"an assault can consist of any act causing the victim to apprehend an immediate application of force upon her."

The views expressed in Meade & Belt's Case, were expressly rejected. The proposition that a gesture may amount to an assault, but that words can never suffice, is unrealistic and indefensible. A thing said is also a thing done, and there is no reason why something said should be incapable of causing an apprehension of immediate personal violence.

 

A telephone caller who says in a menacing way "I will be at your door in a minute or two" can certainly be guilty of an assault if he causes the victim to apprehend immediate personal violence, and there is no reason why a caller who creates the same apprehension by remaining silent should not also be convicted.

 

Guilty

JJC v Eisenhower (1983) QBD

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

 

^[Assault - wounding or GBH - actus reus]
D shot V with an air gun. The pellet hit V near the eye, resulting in a bruise below the eyebrow and fluid filling the front of his eye. 

 

Held: A wound is a break in the continuity of the whole skin; an internal rupturing of the blood vessels is not a wound.

 

Not Guilty of wounding

Johnson, R v (1986) CA

[Assault - causing GBH with intent – sentence]

 

Held: Six months' imprisonment, imposed on a rugby player who bit another player's ear during a match between two police teams.

 

K, DPP v (1990) QBD

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

 

^[Assault - ABH - harm caused indirectly – indirect force]
D placed acid in a hot air drier (the nozzle was pointing upwards) to hide it from his teachers at Stowe School. V then used the drier and the acid caused burns on his face.

 

Held: Parker LJ: D had

"...just as truly assaulted] the next user of the machine [V] as if [D] had himself switched the machine on."

If the charge was simply battery, it is not necessary to prove harm.

 

Guilty of ABH

Lamb, R v [1967] CA

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

[Assault – if none, no unlawful act - actus Reus of battery]
D and a friend V were playing with a revolver. In the chamber there were two bullets, but neither was opposite the hammer when D, in jest, pointed the gun at V and pulled the trigger. The chamber rotated and V was killed.

 

Held: Since V shared in the joke and did not feel threatened (since both believed the gun to be safe) there was no assault and hence no unlawful act to support D's conviction for manslaughter.

 

Not Guilty

Lewis v Cox [1985] QBD

^[Assault - "wilfully" - action not "aimed at" police - mens rea]
D wilfully obstructed a police constable in the execution of his duty by opened the rear door of police van to ask his friend where he was being taken (D and his friend were drunk).

 

Held: A person wilfully obstructed a police constable in the execution of his duty if he deliberately did an act which, though not necessarily "aimed at" or "hostile to" the police, in fact prevented a constable from carrying out his duty or made it more difficult for him to do so, and if he knew and intended that his conduct would have that effect;

 

Not Guilty but would be now

Little, DPP v (1992) QBD

^[Assault and battery - correct indictment]
Information alleged that: 'D ... did unlawfully assault and batter V.'

 

Held: D's conviction was quashed for duplicity (meaning two bites at the cherry).

 

Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, provides that 'common assault and battery shall be summary offences,' deals with two offences, one of assault and the other of battery. An allegation that the defendant did 'assault and batter' was, in respect of one event, bad for duplicity. The word 'assault' must,

"by virtue of the contrast with 'batter' be taken as used in its pure sense of putting in fear of force"

Obiter, that in section 47 [Parliament employed] 'assault' as including the use of force, for without force it would only be in a most unusual case that an assault could occasion actual bodily harm.

 

Not Guilty

Logdon v DPP [1976] QBD

[Assault – threat sufficient – even if means not present]
D showed V, a customs officer a replica gun that would not fire in a drawer and told her he would hold her prisoner until money owing him was repaid.

 

Held: It was enough that V had reasonable cause to fear that force was about to be inflicted on her; the conditional nature of the implied threat, and the fact that D had neither the means nor the intention of carrying it out, were irrelevant.

 

Guilty

Lynsey, R v [1995] CA

[Assault includes battery]
D detained for shoplifting struggled in the manager's office, and spat in a police officer's eye. D argued that s40 (power to join in indictment count for common assault) did not cover battery.

 

Held: Henry LJ: 

"drafting of the 1988 Act is a mess, and they must have meant to include battery in s40 as well as in s39. Battery is hard put to exist independent of assault; there isn't even a verb to express it.  So assault in normal usage includes battery."

 

Henry LJ; stated that the present state of the law concerning non-fatal offences against the person ‘is yet another example of how bad laws cost money and clog up the courts with better things to do’

 

Guilty

Mandair, R v (1994) HL

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

 

^[Assault - wounding or GBH - actus reus]
D returned home in a bad temper and in frustration, threw a container containing cleanser at his wife. The cleanser was acid based and badly injured her face.

 

Held::

Lord MacKay:

"In my opinion . . . the word 'cause' is wider or at least not narrower than the word 'inflict. .' Thus, 'causing grievous bodily harm under s 18 … includes 'inflicting grievous bodily harm' under s 20; it was open to a jury to convict a defendant charged under s 18 of the alternative offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm, contrary to s 20".

Not Guilty of Section 18 Guilty of Section 20

Martin, R v (1881) CCR

[Assault - actus reus of battery = inflicting unlawful personal violence - intentionally or recklessly – indirect force]
D, as a joke, placed an iron bar in a theatre across an exit,  turned out the lights on a staircase and yelled 'Fire!'. As a result, several people were injured.

 

Held:

Lord Coleridge CJ:

"The prisoner must be taken to have intended the natural consequences of that which he did."

An assault as such was not essential to the offence; some unlawful act and the foresight of harm would be enough. "Inflict" meant no more than "cause" and did not require a face-to-face assault.

Guilty

Mead & Belt's Case (1823)

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

[Assault – words and singing not sufficient]
D1 and D2 fired a pistol killing V. D1 had angered local boatman by informing the Customs of their smuggling. The smugglers threatened to come at night and burn down his house. In the middle of the night they came "singing songs of menace";

 

Held: No words or singing alone could amount to an assault justifying shooting in self-defence, but invited the jury to consider whether any actions were also performed.

 

D2 was acquitted. D1 Guilty manslaughter.

But see Burstow, Ireland and Constanza

Miller, R v (1954) Winchester Assizes

^[Assault - ABH - actus reus - includes injury to state of mind]
D had non-consensual sexual intercourse with his wife, after which she was "in a hysterical and nervous condition".

 

Held:

Lynskey J:

'"Actual bodily harm includes any hurt or injury calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the prosecutor..." There was a time when shock was not regarded as bodily hurt, but the day has gone by when that could be said. It seems to me now that, if a person is caused hurt or injury resulting, not in any physical injury, but in an injury to the state of his mind for the time being, that is within the definition of "actual bodily harm".

Not Guilty of rape

Guilty of ABH

Moriaty v Brooks (1834) CP

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault - amount of force]
D a publican wounded V during an attempt to throw him out.

 

Held: A wound was excessive force.

 

Guilty

Morrison, R v (1989) CA

^[Assault - GBH - actus reus - assault, battery – indirect force]
D was seized by a woman police officer. The WPC told D she was arresting him.

D then dived through a windowpane dragging the WPC through the glass. The WPC suffered serious facial cuts.

 

Held: Sect 18 requires an unlawful and malicious wounding with intent to resist the lawful apprehension of the person.

 

Not Guilty of Section 18

Mowatt, R v (1967) CA

^[Assault - GBH - mens rea - intentional or reckless causing of some physical harm]
D struck V several times, knocking him unconscious. D's companion had taken money from V.

V had seized D by the lapels and demanded to know where D's companion was.

 

Held: Intention or recklessness as to the wound or GBH need not be proved.

Diplock LJ:

"It is enough that [D foresaw] ... that some physical harm to some person, albeit of a minor character, might result."

Per curiam:

The intent expressly required by s 18 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 is more specific than the element of foresight of consequences implicit in the word 'maliciously' in that enactment, and in directing a jury on this offence the word 'maliciously' is best ignored; in the offence of unlawful wounding (Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s 20), the word 'maliciously' imports, on the part of the person who unlawfully inflicts the wound or other grievous bodily harm, an awareness that his act may have the consequence of causing physical harm to some other person.

 

Guilty of wounding

Pembliton, R v (1874) CCR

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

[Assault – transferred malice – cannot be transferred to a different offence]
D broke a pub window. D picked up a stone and threw it at the group of men he had been fighting, missed them and broke the window behind them.

 

Held: His "malice" in intending to strike another person could not be transferred to an intention to break the window.

 

Obiter: He could have been convicted had it been proved that he was reckless, having foreseen the risk of damage to the window.

 

Not Guilty

Purcell, R v (1986) CA

[Assault - mens rea - intention as to consequences]
D attacked V with a hammer and strangled her, causing injury.

 

Held:

Lord Lane CJ:

"You must feel sure that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily harm to the victim. You can only decide what his intention was by considering all the relevant circumstances and in particular what he did and what he said about it . There is no restriction to cases of "virtual certainty"."' (citing Lord Bridge in Moloney)

Guilty of Sec 18

Read v Coker (1853) CP

[Assault – words accompanied by actions sufficient]
D and his men surrounded P, rolling up their sleeves, and threatened to break P's neck if he did not leave. P was a rent collector who entered D's workshop and refused to go until the rent was paid.

 

Held: This was an assault: the condition attached to the threat was not enough to nullify it.

 

Guilty

Richardson & Irwin [1999] CA

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

[Assault – mens rea – did D (or would D, if sober) foresee the consequences]
DD two students lifted another over a balcony and dropped him about 12 feet to the ground, causing him serious injuries. During horseplay following an evening's drinking

 

Held: Clarke LJ said that the question was not what another person would have foreseen but what DD themselves would have foreseen had they been sober.

 

Not Guilty

Roberts, R v (1971) CA

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault - escape cases - ABH - "occasioning" refers to causation - not the assault]
D in a car with V a not inexperienced 21 year old woman. They were travelling between two parties. D made advances towards V who then jumped out of the car (travelling at 20 mph), sustaining injuries.

 

Held:
"Occasioning" in ABH relates to causation, and is an objective test.


If the (common assault) was intentional there is no need to consider Recklessness.
 

The proper test for "occasioning" is not whether D actually foresaw the conduct of the victim which resulted in the actual bodily harm, but whether that conduct could have reasonably been foreseen as the consequence of what he was saying or doing.

 

ABH requires proof of an assault together with actual bodily harm occasioned by the assault.
 

The prosecution are not obliged to prove that D intended to cause some actual bodily harm or was reckless as to whether such harm would be caused.

Stephenson LJ

 

On Causation:
The victim's reaction does not break the chain of  causation if it was reasonably foreseeable, that is it was not

"..."so daft" ... or so unexpected ... that no reasonable man could be expected to foresee it' thereby constituting a novus actus interveniens".

Guilty of ABH

Santana-Bermudez, DPP v (2003) DC

 

Red Triangle indicating important material

 

 

Whole case here

^[Assault - actus reus - inactivity by D - an omission can amount to the actus reus of an assault]
D injured a woman police officer by allowing her to search him, knowing he had hypodermic needles in his pockets which stabbed her. D denied having any needles or sharps when asked.

D was convicted by the Magistrates, but acquitted at Crown Court. On appeal by way of case stated from the Crown Court, prosecutor's appeal was allowed.

Held: Where someone created a danger and thereby exposed another to a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury, there was an evidential basis for the actus reus of an assault occasioning actual bodily harm.


D had “created a danger by an act … that act was a continuing act”.  The risk of injury was foreseeable.

 

Not guilty but would be now

Also here

Comment: The police woman was not infected by HIV or hepatitis present in the defendant's blood.

Saunders, R v (1985) CA

[Assault -  meaning of grievous bodily harm]

D, on a road at night, approached a stranger who was sitting resting at the roadside, asked him what the problem was and, when the victim said that there was no problem, D said that he would give him one and punched him in the face. The victim suffered a broken nose and other injuries.

 

Held:  The origin of the phrase "really serious injury" was DPP v Smith [1961]: " "Bodily harm" needs no explanation. ‘Grievous’ means no more and no less than really serious.". A broken nose on any view was serious bodily harm,


Commentary (L. Norman Williams, Barrister.)

The word "really" is, as the Oxford Dictionary has it, "used to emphasise the truth or correctness of an epithet or statement." It means no more than "actually" or "as a matter of fact." In the context it does not add anything to "serious" but emphasises to the jury that the harm caused must be - actually or really - serious.

 

Guilty s20 GBH

Savage (1), Parmenter(2), R v (1992) HL

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

 

^[Assault - ABH - actus reus of ABH and mens rea of common assault - not intention or recklessness]
D intentionally threw beer at V (a former girlfriend of her husband). The glass left her hand and struck V, causing a cut.


P roughly handled his child, causing the breaking of arms and legs.


Held: Throwing the beer would clearly have been an assault.
The offence requires an actus reus of assault causing bodily harm and the mens rea for common assault.
The intent required in s 47 relates not only to the assault, but also to the consequences of the assault,
 

Lord Ackner:

"..."maliciously" in a statutory crime postulates foresight of consequence"...
"the physical harm which the defendant intended or foresaw might result to some person need only be of a minor character for him to be Guilty and it is unnecessary for the Crown to show that he intended or foresaw that his unlawful act might cause physical harm of the gravity described in s 20, ie either wounding or grievous bodily harm..."

 

S Guilty
P Not Guilty of GBH. Guilty of ABH

Smith, DPP v [2006] QBD

^[Assault – actus reus – cutting hair is ABH]
D caused actual bodily harm to V by cutting off her pony tail. D went to the home of his ex-partner and cut of her pony tail with kitchen scissors.
The magistrates accepted that there was no actual bodily harm; the DPP appealed.
 

Held: Cutting off a person’s hair amounted to ABH. Harm was not limited to injury to the skin, flesh and bones and extended to hurt and damage. That the hair cut was "dead tissue" was not relevant.

Obiter: If paint or some other unpleasant substance were to be put on a victim’s hair that would to could amount to actual bodily harm.
R v Donovan [1934]; R v Chan-Fook [1994]; R v Stephen Cook (unreported, 28 July 1994, CA) and R (on the application of T) v DPP [2003] considered.
 

Guilty

Smith, DPP v [1960] HL

^[Assault -  meaning of grievous bodily harm]

D trying to escape from the police in a car was signalled to stop. He did not do so. A PC jumped onto the car’s bonnet. D drove at high speed, swerving from side to side, until the officer was thrown off and killed.

Held: It was clear that he had intended to cause grievous bodily harm, which meant no more and no less than really serious injury.
 

Held: Viscount Kilmuir LC;

"I can find no warrant for giving the words “grievous bodily harm” a meaning other than that which the words convey in their ordinary and natural meaning. “Bodily harm” needs no explanation and “grievous” means no more and no less than “really serious”."

Hobhouse LJ:

"We consider that the same is true of the phrase “actual bodily harm”. These are three words of the English language which require no elaboration and in the ordinary course should not receive any. The word “harm” is a synonym for injury. The word “actual” indicates that the injury (although there is no need for it to be permanent) should not be so trivial as to be wholly insignificant. In the first place, the word "bodily" does not limit harm to the flesh, skin and bones. "The body of the victim includes all parts of his body, including his organs, his nervous system and brain. Bodily injury therefore may include injury to any of those parts of his body responsible for his mental and other faculties."

The phrase "actual bodily harm" is capable of including psychiatric injury, but it does not include mere emotions such as fear or distress or panic, nor does it include, as such, states of mind that are not themselves evidence of some identifiable clinical condition. The phrase which is often used to explain actual bodily harm – interference with the health or comfort of the victim – is likely to result in the jury thinking that this is sufficient, whether or not any injury has occurred; it should not be used.

 

Guilty of murder

Smith v Chief Superintendent of Woking Police Station (1983) QBD

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault - apprehension of immediate force]
D frightened V by looking through her bedroom window late at night. V a policewoman was "absolutely terrified, to the extent that she was very nervous and jumpy for a few days afterwards."

 

Held: D assaulted V as V apprehended unlawful personal violence.

 

Guilty

Spratt, R v [1991] CA

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

[Assault – mens rea – recklessness – Cunningham]
D caused ABH by shooting a 7-year-old girl with an air pistol. He was firing from the window of his flat, aiming at a target in the yard below.

V was playing in the yard D had not known she was there.

 

Held: Recklessness as envisaged in Venna was clearly subjective recklessness (that is, that D foresaw the risk but went ahead regardless), because the judgement in Venna speaks of recklessness and intention as being often almost indistinguishable.

 

Not Guilty

Stephens v Myers (1830) CA

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

[Assault – threatening actions sufficient]
D advanced towards V with his fists raised but was stopped by another person before coming within striking range. Following an argument

 

Held: It was enough that V was put in apprehension even though the battery (the actual striking) never occurred.

 

Guilty

Stubbs, R v (1989) CA

[Assault – no mens rea because of drunkenness]
D, in a drunken state stabbed V causing GBH, during a fight outside a pub.

He was charged under s.18, but the prosecution and the Recorder accepted a plea to s.20.

 

Held: Although the absence of mens rea due to drunkenness would be a defence to a crime of specific intent, that drunkenness would have to be very extreme to justify reducing a s.18 offence to s.20.

 

Not Guilty

Thomas, R v (1985) CA

[Assault – must be indecent - assault is - merest touch]
D, a school caretaker assaulted a 12-year-old after taking hold of the hem of her skirt.

 

Held: The act was not inherently indecent and there was no evidence of circumstances making it so.

 

Obiter: Ackner LJ:

There could be no dispute that if you touch a person's clothes while he is wearing them, that is equivalent to touching him.

 

Not guilty

Turberville v Savage (1669)

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault - apprehension of immediate force]
D struck V causing him to loose an eye.

 

D had placed his hand on his sword and said to V that, If it were not assize-time, he would tell him more of his mind.

 

V ‘defended himself’ when there had been no assault, D's response was to remove V's eye.

 

Held: As the judges were in town D would not have used force on V.

 

No assault, finding for D

Wilson v Pringle [1986] CA

[Assault - actus reus of battery]
D a schoolboy, in fun seized the bag over C's shoulder, causing him injury, and C sued for the tort of assault.

 

Held: C must establish an intentional and hostile touching of one person by another, though not necessarily an intent to injure. A claimant who cannot prove hostility on the defendant's part is likely to fail, because in a crowded world people must be considered to take upon themselves some risk of injury from the lawful acts of others.

 

C lost

Venna, R v (1975) CA

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

^[Assault - mens rea is recklessness or intention]
D struggled with the police officers who were arresting him. D fell to the ground and lashed out wildly with his legs, fracturing a bone in the hand of an officer.

 

Held

"The offence of battery is satisfied by proof that the defendant intentionally or recklessly applied force to the person of another."

Guilty of ABH

Wilson, R v [1955] CCA

[Assault - words and actions sufficient]

D threatened and kicked gatekeeper, calling out "Get out the knives". D was found poaching and the gamekeeper tried to arrest him.

 

Held:

Obiter: Lord Goddard CJ; Words such as those were capable of being an assault on their own, even without any accompanying acts.

 

Guilty of common assault

Wilson. R v (1984) HL

 

Red Triangle indicating "Must Know" material

[Assault - ABH. sec 20- actus reus]
D, whilst driving, nearly ran down V. D got out of his car and punched V in the face.

 

Held: An infliction of grievous bodily harm contrary to s 20 may be committed without establishing first an assault.

 

Lord Roskill, citing Salisbury (1976).

"[G]rievous bodily harm may be inflicted ... either where the accused has directly and violently "inflicted" it by assaulting the victim, or where the accused has "inflicted" it by doing something, intentionally, which, though it is not itself a direct application of force to the body of the victim, does directly result in force being applied violently to the body of the victim, so that he suffers grievous bodily harm."

Guilty of ABH

 

 

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