The defendant’s mental state.
Mens Rea and Actus Reus are necessary for a crime; apart from in strict liability crimes when mens rea is not necessary.
Different crimes have different mens rea.
Example: murder requires intention to cause death or GBH. Sometimes an offence will have different mens rea for different aspects of the crime. Example: rape needs intention to commit sexual intercourse but only needs recklessness as to whether the victim is consenting.
The most blameworthy state of mind – worse to kill intentionally than recklessly or negligently.
Meaning of Intention
House of Lords => intention is to be given its ordinary meaning. Judges should not elaborate or paraphrase what is meant by intention – avoid defining it; leave it to good sense of jury – common sense meaning of the word. What is ordinary meaning? Courts presume it is obvious….so don’t issue a definition…but widely accepted definition is:
“A defendant intends a consequence if he acts with the aim or purpose of producing that consequence.”
Duff’s test of failure is a good way of testing whether intention was present: Had the result not occurred, would the defendant have considered it a failure? YES = Intention was present
However, this test has to be treated with caution when considering cases where the
result is a means to achieve a desired end.
E.g. A kills B to get B’s inheritance – his desired end is getting the inheritance. If B didn’t die, but A somehow got the inheritance anyway, then Duff’s failure test would have the answer of NO (because he got the inheritance) and would therefore suggest that A didn’t have the intention of killing B.
However, it is clear that A did intend to kill B – when we consider the purpose of the defendant this includes not only the end (getting the inheritance) but also means used to achieve that end (killing B).
Intention v Foresight
Whether the defendants act was likely to produce to consequence is irrelevant. A person can realise that an event is unlikely, yet still intend it.
However, it is accepted that if the defendant thought the result was impossible then he cannot be said to intend it – he cannot act with the purpose of producing a result that is impossible.
House of Lords in Moloney => made it clear intention is not the same as foresight. Although foresight is evidence from which a jury can infer intention. R v Moloney  AC 905 Nutcases pg 15; Palgrave pg 202;
Convicted of murder => appeal C of A => dismissed => appealed H of L => successful => manslaughter
Appellant and stepfather had been drinking, argued about who was faster to load & shoot a shotgun => appellant shot stepfather => died.
- Trial judge directed => a man intends consequences when he desires them to happen or foresees that they will probably happen.
H of L Appeal judge held: Jury should not be directed as to meaning of intention. In rare cases when direction necessary => make clear foresight NOT equivalent to intention, but jury can infer intention from foresight. Case established => foresight is evidence of intent, not the same as intent.
R v Hancock and Shankland  AC 455 Palgrave pg 202;
Convicted of murder => appealed C of A => appeal allowed => manslaughter => H of L agreed
Appellants pushed concrete blocks from bridge to block road during miners strike. Blocks fell on taxi taking minor to work killing taxi driver Trial judge directed => jury entitled to infer intention if accused had foreseen death or serious injury as natural consequences of their acts. Convicted murder,appeal allowed. H of L Appeal judge held: direction misleading. Direction was good because based on Moloney direction that foresight merely evidence of intention-although intention can be inferred from foresight. HOWEVER reference to “natural” consequences misleading – should have mentioned the probability of those consequences. So...
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