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R v Moloney

[1985] AC 905

Case summary last updated at 15/01/2020 06:55 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Moloney

A man and his step father were drinking and played a shooting game. M killed his step father but claimed that he did not aim the gun but merely pulled the trigger and his step father was dead. The judge in his summing up stated that the defense was a denial of intent, ignoring the defendant’s claim that he did not realize where the gun was pointed. The judge described intent as when one forsees what will happen or desires what will happen (only one of these need be fulfilled). The defendant was convicted of murder. His appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The HL allowed his appeal on the grounds that his true defence was never stated (that he did not realize where the gun was pointing and therefore neither desired nor foresaw what would occur). A conviction of manslaughter was substituted for the conviction of murder. The trial judge ought not to have directed the jury on intent since it was supposedly his explanation of foresight that led to their conviction. Also the question of foresight is that the consequences have to be “little short of certainty” to establish the necessary intent. HL decided that judges should avoid explaining intention beyond that it differs from “desire” and “motive” (Ashworth p.178) 

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