A more recent version of these Mens Rea notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Criminal Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Mens Rea _______________________________________________________
ingredients: Intention (eg murder) Intention or recklessness (eg non-fatal offences) Negligence (eg rape) Gross negligence (eg manslaughter) Knowledge/belief (eg handling stolen property) Strict liability (mala prohibit crimes)
Legal fault, not moral fault (per Lord Mustill in R v Kingston)
Intention Subjective vs Objective DPP v Smith Policeman jumped onto the bonnet of the car to prevent D driving off with stolen goods - he drove off and police man killed - charged with murder Held: objective test prevails:
? (first instance) direction based on reasonable man's perception of foreseeability
? (CA) overruled and conviction substituted for manslaughter
? (HL) upheld murder conviction - confirmed objective test Overruled by: Criminal Justice Act 1967 S.8 "shall decide whether he did intend or foresee that result by reference to all the evidence" Direct & Oblique Intents Intention & foreseeability interlinked: a high foreseeability of death = intention as to that result
? Direct intent
? Oblique intent (foresight intent)
? Glanville Williams, not in your front-view mirror, but your side-view mirror
R v Moloney
D was drunkenly challenged to load and shoot a gun faster than V but he did so and V challenged him to pull the trigger. He alleged that he did not know it was aimed at V Held: overruling the trial judge, this was a case of direct intent
? Oblique intent: D intends consequence A, but consequence B happens
? Transferred malice: D intents consequence A against X but it affects Y Historical Development of Foresight Hyam v DPP - foreseeability as 'highly probable' amounting to intention D poured petrol through her love rival's letter box and ignited it and drove off. Love rival managed to escape with her son but two daughters were killed Held: (HL) 3:2 upheld the trial judge's direction of "highly probable that this would cause (death or) serious bodily harm then the prosecution will have established the necessary intent" R v Moloney (above) - foreseen natural consequence of act Held: (HL) the Moloney Direction established: the golden rule per Lord Bridge is that intention should be left to the jury & not elaborated unless it is strictly necessary to avoid misunderstanding. In these rare cases the following apply:
1. Was the unlawful consequence (in this case death or GBH for murder) a natural consequence of D's voluntary act?
2. Did D foresee that consequence as a natural consequence of his act?
Legal intention is different from a desire e.g. a fugitive getting on a flight to Manchester to escape does not desire to go to Manchester, but he has shown requisite intent for the act R v Hancock and Shankland - Moloney direction misleading - must include degree of probability D were miners of strike and threw lumps of concrete onto carriageway killing V, a taxi driver. Jury asked for clarification on foresight Held: (HL) direction must include reference to probability. The greater the degree of probability -> the more likely it is to have been foreseen -> the more likely it was intended R v Nedrick - virtual certainty D poured paraffin through letter box and set it alight. V, a child, died. Trial held pre-Moloney Held: (at first instance) 'highly probably' consequence of actions. (CA) after reviewing Moloney and Hancock and Shankland reformulated the test for intention:
? The Nedrick Direction per Lord Lane CJ - where the simple direction is not enough they cannot 'infer' intention unless there is "virtual certainty" of the consequence & D appreciated that such was the case
R v Woollin - precedent today D's baby choked on food and D, angry at the cries, threw the baby in the general direction of the pram but he hit the wall and died - he disputed that he had intent to kill/GBH Held: (HL) misdirection of 'substantial risk' of death/GBH, substituted conviction for manslaughter.
? Lord Steyn affirmed the golden rule per Lord Bridge & amended the Nedrick direction thus: o
The Woollin Direction: jury entitled "to find" necessary intention only where they feel sure death/GBH was virtual certainty as a result of D's actions & D appreciated that such was the case
Suggests that where D is virtually certain of death/GBH as a consequence of actions, he intends that consequence
R v Matthews and Alleyne D threw V into a river and knew he couldn't swim Held: conviction for murder safe (virtual certainty) but emphasised this is an evidentiary direction - a matter of fact for the jury
? Law Commission 2004 Consultation Paper: o 1st degree murder = intention to kill/GBH with awareness of a serious risk of death o 2nd degree murder = intention to GBH/cause fear of death/GBH with awareness of a serious risk of death
Recklessness Draft Criminal Code defines recklessness:
? As to circumstances - awareness of a risk that it exists
? As to results - awareness of a risk that it will occur and unreasonably takes that risk
Case-law has centred around subjective vs. objective awareness of risks: Cunningham Recklessness R v Cunningham D ripped gas meter from wall to steal money from it - gas seeped through wall to partially asphyxiate his future mother-in-law. Charged with Offences against the Person administration of noxious substance - statute contains "maliciously...
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