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R v Dawson

[1985] 81 CAR 150

Case summary last updated at 11/01/2020 15:21 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Dawson

 3 men attempted to rob a petrol station but the alarm was pressed and thy fled. The attendant, who suffered from a weak heart, died of a heart attack after the attempted robbery. It could only be established that there was a “high probability” that the attack set off the heart attack (it may have happened anyway). They were convicted, the judge directing that frightening someone into physical or motional disturbance constituted harm, and when considering whether all reasonable people would recognise the danger of harm, this should be judged assuming the “reasonable man” knew the same facts as the jury. CA say the “reasonable man” should not be taken to have known that the attendant had a weak heart, and that an unlawful act would only be regarded as “dangerous” if it was likely to cause physical harm (not merely emotional shock). Appeal against manslaughter was allowed since the judge misdirected the jury on what facts they could and could not use to decide whether or not the reasonable man would have seen the danger. Surely this is wrong: Any reasonable person knows the potential to cause fear through pointing a gun (albeit replica) at someone and the possibility of causing physical harm through fear. Therefore the action WAS dangerous and WAS unlawful and DID cause death. Therefore the appeal should have been dismissed. Also the CA say that the robbers did not know the attendant had a weak heart: what about “take your victim as you find him?”- Blaue (though the judge in Blaue only applied this to cases of violence, whereas this was merely threatened violence). If I threaten someone with such extreme physical violence that they faint, am I not responsible for them fainting? 

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