Assault and Battery
The mens rea of battery is established where the defendant intended to inflict that force or was subjectively reckless as to whether that force was inflicted: R v Venna  QB 421.
Any amount of force (including mere touching), no matter how slight, will suffice: R v Afolabi  EWHC 2960. Touching a person’s clothes while they are wearing them counts as touching the victim: R v Thomas (1985) 81 Cr App R 331.
There is no need for the force to be direct. A battery can be committed using a weapon, a trap or by causing another to accidentally touch the victim: Haystead v CC of Derbyshire (2000) 164 JP 396; R v Martin (1881) 8 QB 54; DPP v K  1 All ER 331.
The mens rea of assault is intention to cause apprehension of battery or subjective recklessness as to whether this is caused: R v Savage  1 AC 699.
Apprehending Immediate Battery
The courts have been generous with their interpretation of ‘immediate’. If the victim believes that they might be subject to immediate violence, but does not know where the defendant is or whether they have the capacity to enact their threats, this will usually be enough: R v Constanza  Crim LR 576. It is therefore enough that the victim believes that immediate battery could happen.
The focus is on what the victim believes, not on what actually could have happened. For example, if the defendant threatens the victim with an unloaded gun, this could still be an assault if the victim does not know the gun is unloaded. If the victim believes the gun is unloaded, however, there will be no assault: R v Lamb  2 QB 981.
The defendant can cause an assault using words or conduct: R v Ireland  AC 147. However, the defendant’s words can also negate an assault if they make clear that a battery is not going to happen: Tuberville v Savage (1669) 1 Mood Rep 3.
Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
Establishing Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
To establish assault occasioning actual bodily harm (‘ABH’), the prosecution must show the actus reus and mens rea of assault or battery. They must then separately prove that the assault or battery caused ABH: Offences Against the Person Act 1861, s 47; R v Roberts  EWCA Crim 4.
There is no need to prove that the defendant had any mens rea with regards to the causation of ABH.
Actual bodily harm is any effect on the body which is calculated to interfere with the victim’s health or comfort: R v Miller  2 QB 282. It is a low threshold which includes:
Cutting the victim’s hair: DPP v Smith  EWHC 94 (Admin).
A brief loss of consciousness: T v DPP  Crim LR 622.
Psychiatric injury amounting to a recognised mental illness: R v Dhaliwal  EWCA Crim 1139.