R v Flatt (David Sean) – Case Summary

R v Flatt (David Sean)

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1996] Crim LR 576.


The defendant, a drug addict, was convicted of drug possession after a police raid on his flat found cocaine. He claimed that his drug dealer, to whom he owed money, had told him to look after the drugs or else the drug dealer would shoot members of his family.

At trial, the defendant unsuccessfully attempted to mount the defence of duress. The judge directed the jury that they had to consider how a person of reasonable firmness would respond to the threat. The defendant appealed, arguing that this direction was incorrect. He argued that the judge should have directed the jury to consider how a person with a drug addiction would respond to the threat.

  1. Can the jury take into account a defendant’s drug addiction when considering the defence of duress?

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. The defendant’s drug addiction could not be taken into account for two reasons:

  1. It was a self-induced condition;
  2. It did not affect his capacity to resist threats.
This Case is Authority For…

Self-induced conditions, as well as those which do not impact on a person’s ability to resist threats, are not relevant to the defence of duress.