Crime C – s.18 and s.20 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) VI

When assessing whether the injuries amounted to GBH or otherwise the jury is entitled to take into account the characteristics peculiar to the victim including his or her age. In R v Bollom (2004) the victim inflicted injuries on his partner’s seventeen-month old baby and while the injuries would not have constituted grievous bodily harm (GBH) if inflicted on an adult, the same injuries when inflicted on a child could constitute grievous bodily harm (GBH). The jury took into account of the fact that the victim was a baby and convicted the defendant for causing grievous bodily harm (GBH).

The defendant appealed on the grounds that when deciding whether any injury (injuries) constituted grievous bodily harm (GBH), the jury should not take into account the age and characteristics of the victim.

The court of appeal held that when deciding whether an injury (injuries) amount to grievous bodily harm (GBH) the jury is entitled to take in account the victim’s age, sensitivities, and characteristics. However, because not all the injuries that were sustained by the victim were a result of the defendant’s actions the conviction was substituted for a S.47 conviction or actual bodily harm (ABH). It is possible to substitute a S.20 conviction with a S.47 conviction see R v Savage (1991) and R v Parmenter (1991). The test to determine whether a defendant is guilty of a s.47 offence is objective.

It also worth keeping in mind s.58 (4) of the Childrens Act 2004 – For the purposes of subsection (3) “actual bodily harm” has the same meaning as it has for the purposes of section 47 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861”.

s.58 (3) of the act reads as follows: –

“Battery of a child causing actual bodily harm to the child cannot be justified in any civil proceedings on the ground that it constituted reasonable punishment”.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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