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

1. Wounding is defined as a break in the skin. In Moriarty v Brookes (1834) a publican tried to evict a customer who was causing a disturbance and refused to leave. The publican put his arm around the man’s shoulders and tried to evict the man and in doing so injured him below the eye (there was a cut in the skin which resulted in bleeding).

‘If the violence which occurred took place in an endeavor by the defendant to turn the plaintiff out of the house, the third plea is proved. However, this plea does not profess to justify any wounding; therefore, if there was a wound, the plaintiff is entitled to recover for that. It is proved that the plaintiff was cut under the eye, and that it bled; and I am of opinion that, that is a wound.’

The publican was found guilty and was deemed to have used too much force or excessive force.

If there is no break in the skin for example there is only a rapture of internal blood vessels, then as far as s.18 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) is concerned, it will not amount to or be classed or categorized as a wounding.

In JJC v Eisenhower (1984) the defendant, a minor, fired multiple rounds with an air-gun at a group of people and another minor in the group sustained injuries when he was hit by a pellet from the air-gun in the face and it caused the blood vessels below the surface of the skin to rupture. The defendant was charged under s.18 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) and the question before the court was whether a s. 18 wounding requires a break in the skin.

The court decided that a conviction under s.18 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) requires actual wounding i.e. a break in the continuity of the skin and even a scratch, for that matter, would not suffice.

Likewise a defendant cannot be found guilty of causing or precipitating a psychiatric illness under s.18, because while psychiatric illnesses are recognized as physical injuries there is no break in the continuity of the skin but the defendant can be convicted under s47 of the Offences Against Person Act 1861 see R v Ireland (1998).

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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

In order to obtain a conviction under s. 20, the prosecution needs to satisfy the four components that make up the actus rues (physical element). They are as follows:-

  1. The act must be unlawful
  2. Wounding

or

  1. Inflicting/Causing grievous bodily harm (GBH)
  2. On another person.

The unlawful act:-

In Fagan v MPC (1969) the defendant was in his car when he was approached by a police officer who told him to move his vehicle. The defendant did so and reversed his car onto the foot of the police officer. The police officer somewhat forcefully told the defendant to move the car off his foot and the defendant swore at the police officer, switched off the engine and refused to do so. The defendant was tried and convicted for assault and appealed the decision. The appeal was dismissed.

With reference to children any punishment that is imposed must only be to the extent that it is reasonable and anything beyond that may lead to criminal charges.

In R v Hopley (1860) the defendant was a schoolmaster who was charged with causing the death of one his pupils which was brought about or precipitated by excessive punishment.

It was held that a parent or a guardian may punish a child provided that it doesn’t go too far and it is done with the intention of correcting the child and not for the gratification of passion or rage

S. 58 of the Childrens Act 2004 elaborates further on the subject-

Reasonable punishment

(1) In relation to any offence specified in subsection (2), battery of a child cannot be justified on the ground that it constituted reasonable punishment.

(2) The offences referred to in subsection (1) are—

(a) An offence under section 18 or 20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 (wounding and causing grievous bodily harm);

(b) An offence under section 47 of that Act (assault occasioning actual bodily harm);

(c) An offence under section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (cruelty to persons under 16).

(3) 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.

(4) 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.

(5) In section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, omit subsection (7).

Section 1 (1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 reads as follows:-

If any person who has attained the age of sixteen years and has responsibility for any child or young person under that age, willfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons, or exposes him, or causes or procures him to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned, or exposed, in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health (including injury to or loss of sight, or hearing, or limb, or organ of the body, and any mental derangement), that person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable—

(a) On conviction on indictment, to a fine . . . or alternatively . . . or in addition thereto, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding ten years;

(b) On summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £400 pounds, or alternatively . . . or in addition thereto, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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

The mens rea (mental element) to convict under s18 of the Offences Against Person Act is as follows: –

  1. Intention to cause GBH (grievous bodily harm)

and/or

  1. With intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer of any person.

s.18 convictions are reserved for more severe or serious offences which is made evident by the penalty that is imposed.

The test to determine intention is provided in Section 8 of the Criminal Justice Act (1967) – proof of criminal intent. A court or jury, in determining whether a person has committed an offence –

(a) shall not be bound in law to infer that he intended or foresaw a result of his actions by reason only of its being a natural and probable consequence of those actions; but

(b) shall decide whether he did intend or foresee that result by reference to all the evidence, drawing such inferences from the evidence as appear proper in the circumstances.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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

The offences of wounding and causing GBH (grievous bodily harm)  are to be found in s.18 and s.20 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861). The sections read as follow: –

s.18 “Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously by any means whatsoever wound or cause any grievous bodily harm to any person, . . .  with intent, . . .  to do some . . .  grievous bodily harm to any person, or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer of any person, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable . . .  to be kept in penal servitude for life . . .”

s.20 “Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously wound or inflict any grievous bodily harm upon any other person, either with or without any weapon or instrument, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable . . .  to be kept in penal servitude . . .”

Between the two, s.20 is the lesser offence and s.18 is the more serious offence and an offender if convicted under s.18 can be kept in prison for life.

The mens rea (mental element) to obtain a conviction under s.20 is as follows: –

  1. Intention
  2. Recklessness

The test to obtain a conviction under s.20 of the Offences against Person Act (1861) is subjective see R v Savage (1991).

In R v Savage (1991) the defendant threw a glass of beer at her husband’s ex-girlfriend, but the glass slipped from her hand and resulted in serious injury to the victim. The defendant was tried and convicted for maliciously causing grievous bodily harm to another under s.20 of the Offences Against the Person Act (1861). The victim appealed on the grounds that the word malicious required intent and the defendant had not intended to cause the victim the kind of harm or injury that resulted from her actions.

The trial judge had failed to inform the jury that the test to convict under s20. of the Offences Against the Person Act (1861) was subjective and the jury had to establish intent before it could convict under s20. However, given the facts it was possible to convict under s.47 of the Offences Against the Person Act (1861), if the defendant could foresee that some harm would result from her actions albeit not the exact type of harm or injury that resulted. The matter was referred to the House of Lords.

The matter before the House of Lords was whether: –

  1. It was possible to substitute a s.20 conviction for a s.47 conviction when there was no intent, or the subjective test was not satisfied? The answer is yes, and it is possible to substitute a s.20 conviction with a s.47 conviction on a count of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) when the element of intent cannot be satisfied.
  2. A conviction under s.47 simply required Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) i.e. minor injuries, bruises, cuts and wounds and proof of an assault. Silence can constitute an assault see R v Ireland (1997) and recognized psychiatric illnesses are also classed or categorized as physical injury see R v Ireland and Burstow (1997).
  3. In order to convict under.20 the defendant must foresee the consequences of his or her actions regardless of the severity of the harm or injury that resulted.

In R v Parmenter (1991) the defendant was convicted on four counts of causing grievous bodily harm to his infant son. The types of injuries included bruises, broken bones and aberrations. The judge directed the jury to convict under s.20 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) if they believed that the defendant ought to be aware (objective) or should be aware that his actions would cause his infant son some form of injury. The jury convicted, and the defendant appealed on the grounds that in order to convict under s.20 the defendant must have foresight of the consequences (subjective) or must be aware that his actions would harm his son (subjective).

The defendant’s argument was that he did not know that the manner in which he handled his son would cause him physical injury or was unable to appreciate that his manner of handling his son would cause him physical injury.

The court held that the test to convict under s. 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act (1861) was subjective i.e. the defendant must be able to foresee the consequences of his actions and substituted the conviction for a conviction under s. 47 of the Offences Against Person Act 1861 (a lesser offence) where it sufficed that the defendant foresaw or could anticipate some form of harm.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Crime XXXXXXXXXIV – Battery VI

Police officers are allowed to make contact with others in the course of their duty and not all physical contact made by a police officer will amount to battery. In Donnelly v Jackman (1970) a police officer tapped the defendant on the shoulder to bring his attention to something and the defendant turned around and assaulted the police officer.

The defendant was charged with assaulting a police officer in the course of his duty and the defendant countered by alleging that the police officer’s actions amounted to battery. The court decided that the police officer’s actions did not amount to battery.

Some leeway must be given to police officers to enable them to do their job or to carry out their duties effectively. That scope however is quite narrow.

  1. Physical force or the application of physical force.

In order to be convicted for battery the defendant must have applied some sort of physical force that is unreasonable under the circumstances and does not fall under the scope of acceptable codes of conduct. That physical force however need not be severe and mere touching could amount to battery.

In Faulkner v Talbot (1981) it was held that battery includes the intentional or reckless touching of someone without the consent of that person or without lawful excuse and the act need not be hostile.

The decision in Faulkner v Talbot (1981) however must be compared with the decision in Wilson v Pringle (1986) when one schoolboy sued another for injuries sustained while fooling around in the school corridor. It was decided that in order for the actions of the defendant to amount to battery the act must be hostile.

In short it would be safe to say, as per Collins v Wilcock (1984), that what amounts to battery or otherwise depends on the facts of each case.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Crime XXXXXXXXXIII – Battery V

Can there be consent to battery? The answer in short is yes. In Collins v Wilcock (1984) a police constable tried to arrest a woman as per s. 1 (3) of the Street Offences Act (1959) which reads as follows: –

“A constable may arrest without warrant anyone he finds in a street or public place and suspects, with reasonable cause, to be committing an offence under this section”.

The woman tried to walk away, and the police officer tried to stop her by grabbing her hand. The woman struggled to free herself and in doing so scratched the police officer. The woman was charged with assaulting a police officer.

It was held that the police officer’s actions amounted to battery. He had no power to arrest the woman and her actions were in self-defense.

The court took the opportunity to elaborate on the offence of battery. Battery can be defined as the offence of making physical contact with someone i.e. touching, pulling, elbowing, grabbing etc. without their consent.

However, the courts accept that in the course of everyday life, it is inevitable that people will make some sort of contact with each other for example when they are walking around in a crowd and under such circumstances or in those situations it is deemed that there is implied consent and such physical contact is not actionable. In other words, in these instances there is consent to battery.

The offence of battery per se is the offence of making some sort of physical contact that is not reasonable or does not fall within the scope of generally accepted codes of conduct. What is acceptable or otherwise depends on the facts of each case.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Crime XXXXXXXXXII – Battery IV

2. The act must be unlawful i.e. the act must be in breach of either common law or statute but if the defendant has reasonable excuse to use force than the act will not be construed as unlawful. A defendant has a valid excuse to use force:-

    • When he or she is trying to defend himself or herself. At common law anyone is allowed to use reasonable force to protect himself or herself.

    In R v Scarlett (1994)

    The defendant was a publican who was trying to evict a customer who was drunk. The defendant asked the customer to leave and he refused to do so and the defendant believed that the man was about to strike him so he pinned the man’s arms to his back and forcefully took him outside and left him by the wall of the lobby. The man fell backwards, down a flight of 5 steps, hit his head and died as a result. The defendant was tried and convicted for manslaughter. The defendant appealed.

    The appeal was allowed and the conviction was quashed. There was no evidence to indicate that the defendant had used excessive force.

    “They ought not to convict him unless they are satisfied that the degree of force used was plainly more than was called for by the circumstances as he believed them to be and, provided he believed the circumstances called for the degree of force used, he was not to be convicted even if his belief was unreasonable.”

    And

    • When the defendant is trying to prevent a crime as per s.3 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1967. The act reads as follows:-

    “A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large”.

    Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Crime XXXXXXXXXI – Battery III

In order to convict for battery, the prosecution must establish three elements. They are as follows: –

  1. Force was applied
  2. The force was unlawful
  3. It was physical (psychiatric illnesses are classed as assaults see R v Ireland (1997))

Application of physical force

In Fagan v MPC (1969) the defendant was in his car when he was approached by a police officer who told him to move his vehicle. The defendant did so and reversed his car onto the foot of the police officer. The police officer somewhat forcefully told the defendant to move the car off his foot and the defendant swore at the police officer, switched off the engine and refused to do so. The defendant was tried and convicted for assault and appealed the decision. The appeal was dismissed.

In this instance, the defendant committed the unlawful act by moving his car on to the police officer’s foot, he applied force by not removing the car when directed to do so by the police officer and the type of force that was used was physical.

The force that is used however need not be directly applied. In DPP v K (a minor) (1990) a schoolboy stole some hydrochloric acid from the science room and placed it in the hand dryer in the boys’ toilet. The nozzle was pointing upwards and when the next boy came to use the hand dryer the acid squirted on to his face and caused permanent scaring.

The boy was found guilty and it was held that the force that was used need not be directly applied.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Crime XXXXXXXXX – Battery II

In R v Savage (1991) the defendant threw a glass of beer at her husband’s ex-girlfriend, but the glass slipped from her hand and resulted in serious injury to the victim. The defendant was tried and convicted for maliciously causing grievous bodily harm to another under s.20 of the Offences Against the Person Act (1861). The victim appealed on the grounds that the word malicious required intent and the defendant had not intended to cause the victim the kind of harm or injury that resulted from her actions.

The trial judge had failed to inform the jury that the test to convict under s20. of the Offences Against the Person Act (1861) was subjective and the jury had to establish intent before it could convict under s20. However, given the facts it was possible to convict under s.47 of the Offences Against the Person Act (1861), if the defendant could foresee that some harm would result from her actions albeit not the exact type of harm or injury that resulted. The matter was referred to the House of Lords.

The matter before the House of Lords was whether: –

  1. It was possible to substitute a s.20 conviction for a s.47 conviction when there was no intent, or the subjective test was not satisfied? The answer is yes, and it is possible to substitute a s.20 conviction with a s.47 conviction on a count of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) when the element of intent cannot be satisfied.
  2. A conviction under s.47 simply required Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) i.e. minor injuries, bruises, cuts and wounds and proof of an assault. Silence can constitute an assault see R v Ireland (1997) and recognized psychiatric illnesses are also classed or categorized as physical injury see R v Ireland and Burstow (1997).
  3. In order to convict under.20 the defendant must foresee the consequences of his or her actions regardless of the severity of the harm or injury that resulted.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Crime XXXXXXXIX – Battery I

Battery is a summary offence i.e. an offence that is tried at a magistrate’s courts. It is an offence that in most instances follows an assault. The defendant first verbally abuses or intimidates the victim and soon after carries out his or her threat by using some form of physical violence.

Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 gives us an idea of the offence. The section reads as follows: –

“Common assault and battery shall be summary offences and a person guilty of either of them shall be liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both”.

The mens rea (mental element) for battery is as follows: –

  1. An intention to apply unlawful physical force or
  2. Reckless as to whether such force is applied or not.

In R v Parmenter (1991) the defendant was convicted on four counts of causing grievous bodily harm to his infant son. The types of injuries included bruises, broken bones and aberrations. The judge directed the jury to convict under s.20 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) if they believed that the defendant ought to be aware (objective) or should be aware that his actions would cause his infant son some form of injury. The jury convicted, and the defendant appealed on the grounds that in order to convict under s.20 the defendant must have foresight of the consequences (subjective) or must be aware that his actions would harm his son (subjective).

The defendant’s argument was that he did not know that the manner in which he handled his son would cause him physical injury or was unable to appreciate that his manner of handling his son would cause him physical injury.

The court held that the test to convict under s. 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act (1861) was subjective i.e. the defendant must be able to foresee the consequences of his actions and substituted the conviction for a conviction under s. 47 of the Offences Against Person Act 1861 (a lesser offence) where it sufficed that the defendant foresaw or could anticipate some form of harm.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward