R v Constanza (Gaetano) – Case Summary

R v Constanza (Gaetano)

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1997] 2 Cr App R. 492.


The defendant began stalking the victim. He sent her around 800 letters, silently telephoned her, wrote on her door and watched her from his car. As a result, the victim suffered depression and anxiety. She told police that she believed that the defendant might attack her at any time.

For this behaviour, the defendant was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm under s.47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. He appealed, arguing that he had committed no assault because there was no immediate threat of violence.

  1. Was there sufficient threat of immediate violence to constitute assault?

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. It was sufficient that the victim could not exclude the possibility of an immediate attack, even if she was not certain when the attack might come.

This Case is Authority For…

A threat of violence can be ‘immediate’ for the purposes of assault if the victim believes that they could be immediately attacked. There is no need to prove that the victim can see the perpetrator.


Silence accompanied by conduct (such as the silent telephone calls) can amount to an assault.