Before the defense of self-defense is made available to the defendant it must be established that the threat is imminent for example in instances of a preemptive strike i.e. when the defendant strikes first in fear of being attacked.
In Evans v Hughes (1972) a man was charged with carrying an iron bar down a public highway seven day after he was attacked. The question before the court was whether the defendant’s actions were in self-defense (preemptive) given the fact that he was recovering or recuperating from an attack that occurred just seven days prior.
It was held that “when you get to seven days you get in my judgement very close to the borderline, but at the borderline it is the good sense of the justices which must ultimately determine whether or not there was reasonable excuse. I am not sure I would have reached the same conclusion” – Lord Widgery CJ.
With regards to what is imminent or otherwise – “it remains for a jury to determine how imminent, how soon, how likely and how serious the anticipated attack has to be” – Keene LJ see R v McAuley (2009).
Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward