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R v Steane

[1947] KB 997

Case summary last updated at 15/01/2020 06:49 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Steane

A British citizen lived in Germany before the war. During the war he was compelled to produce films for the Nazis else his wife and children would be placed in a concentration camp. He was charged with doing an act likely to assist the enemy. The judge says it is not sufficient to assume intent from the action- it has to be proved separately. The judge had not directed the jury to consider the burden of criminal intent being on the prosecutor and that it could not simply be assumed. It would have caused the jury to reach the wrong conclusion by telling them that a man must be considered to intend the natural consequences of is actions. He won his appeal, given that the prosecution had failed to prove his intention “beyond reasonable doubt.” Norrie said this was a case of allowing motivation in by the back door, since his intention to help the enemy was undeniably there, even if his motivation was good. 

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