(麥 嘉 豪 )
Adjunct Associate Professor
BRIEF - Lecture 2
(A) Principles of Criminal Liability
Chapters 2 and 4 of the Workbook
and some additional information
Mens Rea consists of :
The crime will specify the kind of mens rea
How does the prosecution prove intention?
There can be:
(i) Direct proof; or
(ii) Indirect proof.
drawn from conduct of accused.
(i) Direct Intent
- where prohibited consequence is aim,
purpose, desire or objective of Accused.
(ii) Oblique Intent
- where prohibited consequence IS NOT aim,
purpose or objective BUT is foreseen, as a
certain or practically certain result
of the actions of the Accused.
(a result can be intended even though not desired
R v Moloney 1985
- D & stepfather had a shooting contest to see who
would load & fire a gun faster.
House of Lord laid guidelines on issue of intention:
- What is meant by intent should be left to the
good sense of the jury to decide if there was
Foresight of consequences is NOT intention but is
evidence from which intent can be inferred.
R v Nedrick 1986
- D pushed lighted materials through a letterbox to
frighten a victim. A fire started.
A child killed in blaze.
HL held: Ds knowledge that people might be injured
would be evidence that he intended the
consequences if he knew that injury was
Jury should infer necessary intention if it
feels sure that:
- death or serious bodily harm was a virtual
certain consequence of D’s conduct and
- D had foresight of it.
R v Woollin 1998
- D lost his temper. In frustration he threw his 3month old son onto a hard surface. He died. HL said: -
Jury should be directed that it can find
that such intention existed (to kill or
cause GBH) where such is a virtual
certainty of D’s actions and he knows
S65A CPO Cap.221 states that:
In deciding if Accused intended or foresaw
a result of his actions - do not just consider
the result as being a natural and probable
consequence of his actions, but take into
account all the evidence drawing any
knowledge that there is a risk that a consequence
taking on an unjustified/unreasonable risk
easier to prove this (than intention)
basic mens rea
D aware of circumstances of RISK and foresaw
what consequences may result.
R v Cunningham 1957
D – burglar – broke into a house, and broke a gas
meter to steal money
the gas escaped & suffocated a lady next door
D charged with maliciously administering a
question was if D himself had
foreseen the risk of gas escaping and
reaching someone ?
R v Caldwell 1982
Said objective recklessness is required .
Prosecution shows that the risk taken by D was
and serious risk”
REASONABLE PERSON and not to D
R v G 2004
2 boys aged 11 & 12 went camping without
knowledge of parents. They set fire to newspapers in
a yard near a shop. Left burning newspapers under
a bin. Left scene. Fire spread. Burnt shop and
contents. Loss of over 1 million pounds. Boys were
charged with criminal damage. Boys said they left
burning newspapers on concrete ground and did not
expect fire to spread and thought it would burn out
Guilty or not guilty?
House of Lords held:
Objective recklessness (Caldwell) overruled.
Subjective recklessness is correct.
Issue was whether the 2 boys had
themselves realised the risk.
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