Savage and Parmenter [1992] 1 AC 699

The foreseeability of the level of physical harm and subjective intent required for the crime of grievous bodily harm.

Facts

In the first case, Ms. Savage threw beer over her husband’s ex-girlfriend in a bar. Yet, while doing so, the glass slipped out of her hand resulting in the victim’s wrist being cut. She claimed that she had no intention to harm her with the glass, yet was convicted for inflicting grievous bodily harm. In the second case, Mr. Parmenter had injured his new-born son, yet claimed that he had done so accidently as he had no experience with small babies. Mr. Parameter was also convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Issue

The issue pertained as to whether it was necessary to establish that the defendant intended the infliction of grievous bodily harm in order to establish the crime of malicious infliction of grievous bodily harm under s 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
 

Held

It is unnecessary that the accused should either have intended or have foreseen that his unlawful act might cause grievous bodily harm under s 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. To satisfy the mens rea element of “maliciously,” it is not necessary to demonstrate that the defendant intended the level of harm inflicted. It is sufficient that the accused foresaw that some physical harm to some person, no matter of how minor a character envisaged, might result from the conduct. Accordingly, the Court dismissed Savage’s appeal and substituted Parmenter’s conviction to that of assault occasioning bodily harm.