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Act Leading To Undesired Consequence


Undesired Consequence

Decision on How Intention is to be Established

DPP v Smith (1961)

Driving off with policeman holding on to car

To get away from the policeman

Policeman fell off car and killed by oncoming vehicle

Person intends the natural & probable

consequences of his

acts (HL).

Section 8 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967


To reverse the decision in DPP v Smith


Jury not bound to find that D intended result just because it was a natural and probable result of D's act.Look at all relevant evidence and decide D's intention.

Hyam v DPP (1975)

D put burning newspaper through letterbox

To frighten the woman who lived in the house

Death of lady's two children

Enough that D foresaw that his actions were likely or highly likely to cause death or gbh (HL).

R v Moloney (1985)

Firing live bullet

Shooting contest

Death of stepfather

Jury to ask themselves:

(1) Was death or gbh the natural consequence of D's act? And

(2) Did the D foresee this?

If yes to both questions, then can infer intention (HL).

R v Hancock and Shankland (1986)

D's threw concrete block on to motorway

Intended to block the road used by non-striking miners

Death of taxi driver

The greater the probability of a consequence occurring, the more likely it was foreseen, and the more likely it was foreseen the more likely it was intended.

Foresight of consequences is only evidence of intention (HL).


Guilty Act


Undesired Consequence


R v Nedrick (1986)

D put petrol bomb through letterbox

D wanted to frighten the owner of the house

Child burned to death

If jury satisfied that D recognised that death or sbh would be a virtually certain result of his act, then they may infer that D intended to cause that result, but not obliged to do so (CA).

R v Scalley (1995)

D set fire to a house

To destroy flat

Death of child

Judge failed to explain that if jury satisfied that D did see death or serious injury as virtually certain, then could infer intention but did not have to (CA).

R v Woollin (1998)

Lost temper and threw baby onto hard surface

Frustration at baby crying

Death of baby

Jury should be directed according to the Nedrick "virtual certainty" test to find intention.  

Substantial risk is not enough (HL).

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