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R v Woollin

[1999] AC 82

Case summary last updated at 15/01/2020 06:58 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Woollin

W lost his temper and threw his 3 month old son on to a hard surface and the child died. The judge directed the jury initially that for a conviction of murder the defendant had to appreciate death as a virtual certainty for the jury to infer intention. However he later changed this to say that substantial risk was enough. He was convicted of murder and the CA dismissed his appeal. HL allowed his appeal, substituting a conviction of manslaughter for one of murder. The judge should not have given the “misdirection” of substantial risk and that the direction should have been more thorough, saying that the jury “were not entitled” to convict unless the defendant appreciated the “virtual certainty” of the infant’s death. Reg v Moloney and Reg v Nedrick were precedents. It was also said to be unhelpful to the jury to ask questions like “how probable was the result”. They should instead state that the jury are not entitled to find x unless they are certain of y etc. 

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