R v Calhaem

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R v Calhaem [1985] QB 808

Counselling or procuring murder


The defendant was convicted of murder under s.8 of the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861. She had counselled Z to murder the victim. Z decided not to carry out the murder but had gone berserk and eventually killed the victim anyway. The defendant appealed her conviction.


The trial directed the jury that “counselling” under s.8 meant to incite, solicit, instruct or authorise, or “to put somebody up to something”. The jury was then also directed that it was for the prosecution to prove that the defendant counselled Z to kill the victim, and that the victim was killed by an act of murder within the scope of the defendant’s instructions and authorisation. The defendant argued that the trial judge had failed to direct the jury on her defence, which was that counselling required substantial causal connection between the counsellor’s acts and the actual commission of the offence. As Z decided not to comply with the defendant’s request and only killed the victim after going berserk, no such causal connection existed.


The Court decided to dismiss the defendant’s appeal. It held that, within the meaning of s.8 AAA 1861, “counselling” did not require any causal connection between the counselling and the principal offence (i.e. the actual murder). An offence under s.8 was established by the presence of counselling and the principal offence was committed by the person counselled within the scope of the authorisation or instruction (i.e. not by accident). The trial judge had therefore accurately directed the jury.

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