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R v Caldwell

[1982] AC 341

Case summary last updated at 15/01/2020 07:25 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Caldwell

C set fire to a hotel and was so drunk that he was unaware of the lives he endangered. He pleaded guilty to intending to damage property but not guilty to intending to endanger life. The majority decision was that reckless is a common sense word and adding the labels of objective or subjective solve nothing. What they ended up with though was an objective test whereby if a “reasonable man” could perceive danger then recklessness was held to exist. Being reckless was held to be a “sufficient alternative” to mens rea. Lord Diplock says that the subjective test allows genuinely thoughtless people to escape punishment and that this is wrong. 

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