Criminal Law Case Study

Criminal Law Case Study

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H was a world famous darts player. He was demonstrating his skill at
an outdoor fete in aid of a charity. H offered 50 to anyone who would
place an apple on his head and permit H to throw a dart at it. H
contemplated the risk of hitting such a person. I volunteered, placing
the apple on his head. H threw the dart but sudden gust of wind caused
the dart to deviate from trajectory and hit I’s ear. I’s blood dripped
onto I’s coat. The dart continued on to hit an electric cable, setting
fire to a fete tent.

SUGGESTED ANSWER

In advising H of his criminal liability, the possible charges that can
be brought against him are under the OFFENCES AGAINST PERSONS ACT 1861
for the injury caused against I, for criminal damage when the blood
dripped on to I’s coat and when the tent caught on fire.

I’s Injury

When the dart that H threw had injured I’s ear. He could be charged
under the OFFENCES AGAINST PERSONS ACT (OAPA) 1861. The first offence
is under S18 of the same Act, where it is defined as an offence when a
person maliciously wounds or causes grievous bodily harm with the
intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The injury to I’s ear would
constitute a wound. As a wound has been defined in JJC v Eisenhower as
that the inner and outer skin must be broken. Further blood must spilt
even one drop is enough. This is satisfied on the fact as I was
bleeding.

The mens rea for S 18 is intention to cause grievous bodily harm.
Being a specific intent crime it has to be proof that the defendant
must intent the act and also the consequences. According to R v Bryson
and R v Belfon, intention must be proved and that recklessness is not
sufficient. Applying this to the question, it is difficult to
establish the required mens rea , as H only intended the act of
throwing the dart but as regard to the consequence he only

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Criminal Law Case Study Essay

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contemplated the risk of hitting such person. Therefore H cannot be
charged for an offence under S 18 OAPA 1861.

The next possible charge would be under S 20 of OAPA 1861. The actus
rea for S 20 is the same as S 18 where wounding must be proved the
only different would be as regard to the wording, S18 uses the term
“cause” instead of “inflict” GBH. The mens rea for S 20 is that
defendant must have acted maliciously. R v Cunningham has defined
maliciously as either intention or recklessness. According to R v
Savage and DPP v Parmenter the test for recklessness is the subjective
test ie Cunningham recklessness the D must appreciate the risk but
nevertheless when on to take it. This is where further to the
intention towards the act the defendant must also foresee the risk of
injury albeit slight injury on the consequence. In the given question,
H had contemplated the risk of hitting such person. Therefore it would
seem that the mens rea would be satisfied. However it should be noted
that H is a world famous darts player and as such after contemplating
such as a risk he may decided that there is no such risk ie he
appreciated the risk of hitting the person but concluded that he would
not by his experience. If this is the view that H cannot be charged
with S 20.

Alternatively H can be charged for a S. 47 OAPA 1861. Where it is
defined as assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH). Assault here
is used in the broad sense. It includes both assault and battery. On
the fact when H’s dart struck I ear, battery is satisfied. Whereby any
act by the D which inflict immediate personal violence. Following the
analogy by Scot v Shepherd it is not essential that the force should
have been directly inflicted ie force need not be directly applied. As
such the is battery even though the injury was indirect, by the sudden
gust of wind which cause the dart to deviate.

Actual bodily harm was defined in the case of R v Miller as act which
interferes with the health and comfort of the victim. Clearly this is
satisfied as I’s ear is injured. And further it must be proof that
actual bodily harm was occasioned by assault or battery. According to
R v Roberts the word occasioned means simply a question of causation.
Therefore H must be cause in fact and law for liability to attach.
Applying this to the fact, “But For” H’s act of throwing the dart I
would not have injured and further his act is the “Operative and
Substantive” cause to I’s ear injuries. In R v Savage and DPP v
Parmenter it was stated that the mens rea required is the same as
assault or battery DPP v Little. This mean H either intentionally or
recklessly inflict force on another. On the facts this is satisfied as
H appreciated the risk of hitting the victim but nevertheless went on
to take it ie Cunningham recklessness. Therefore H can be charged for
I’s injury under S. 47 OAPA 1861.

The next question is whether H can raise the defence of consent where
I had volunteered to place the apple on his head. According to R v
Donovan, AG v Reference (No. 1 of 1976) and the case of R v Brown
whether the victim consented or not is irrelevant if there is bodily
harm. Therefore the fact that I had volunteered is irrelevant and H
would still be liable for the injuries caused by him on I.

Damage to I’ coat

When the blood drips onto I’s coat, H can be charged under the
Criminal Act 1971 (CDA 1971). The offence would be under S. 10(1) of
CDA 1971 where it states that he defendant must have destroyed or
damaged property belonging to another.

Each element of actus reus will be examined. There must be property
capable of being damaged under S. 10(1) CDA 1971. This is satisfied as
a coat is a property with S. 10(1). Next the property must belong to
another as stated under S. 10(2) where someone for example in our
question, I must have custody or control over the property. The next
element is either damage or destroy more to the paint of our question,
damage will be discussed. Damage is where there is an impairment of
the property’s use of value. Damage is where there is impairment of
the property’s use or value. Damage need not be permanent. The fact
that the blood stains can be washed out still constitute damage
according to the cases of Roe v Kingerlee, Hardman v Chief Constable
of Avon & Summerset and R v Henderson.

The mens rea required is either intention to destroy or damage or
reckless as to whether the property would be destroyed or damaged.
Here in this question, clearly there is no intention, it would be
easier to prove recklessness as the test applied is the objective test
according to the cases of R v Caldwell and Elliot v C. Therefore H
can be charged under S 1(1) CDA 1971.

It is very doubtful whether H can raise the defence of lawful excuse
under S. 5 (2) (a) or S. 5 (2) (b). According to S. 5(2) (a) H must
have the belief that I had consented to the damage caused to the coat.
The belief here need only be an honest belief Jaggard v Dickson.
However it is very unlikely that H would be able to rely on this
defence.

Damage to the tent

When the dart hit an electric cable, setting fire to a fete tent. H
could be liable under S. 1(2) CDA 1971. The actus reus for S. 1(2) is
the same as S. 1(1) where D must have destroyed or damaged property
belonging to another. The elements have been discussed above. The mens
rea for S. 1(2) is also the same as S 1(1) but under S. 1(2) it must
further be proved that D intended by the destruction or damage to
endanger the life of another or that he was reckless as to whether the
life of another would be thereby endangered. Here it must be shown
that either H entered or was received as to whether life would be
endangered by the fire on the tent as was stated in the case of R v
Steer and R v Parker. It would seem that it is rather difficult to
prove the mens rea as the act is too remote as we are comparing with a
reasonable man, whether a reasonable man would foresee that the dart
would hit the electric cable and cause fire to the tent. Therefore it
would seem that it would be difficult to charge it under S 1(2) CDA
1971.
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