R v Ibrahim (Mohammed) – Case Summary

R v Ibrahim (Mohammed)

Court of Appeal

Citations: [2014] EWCA Crim 121.

Facts

The defendant had poor relations with his family members. On one occasion, he got into a fight with his father and uncle, and was pushed into a window. The police were called but took no further action. A short while later, the three men met at a hotel. While there, the defendant punched his uncle to the ground.

The defendant was charged with causing grievous bodily harm contrary to s.20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. His defence was self-defence: he argued that his uncle had already slapped and kicked him, and that he thought his uncle was going to attack him further. The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that the defendant was the aggressor and was taking revenge after the first fight. CCTV evidence showed the defendant’s attack, but not any aggression from the uncle. The defendant was convicted.

The defendant appealed. He argued that the jury should have taken into account his ADHD when determining self-defence. Expert evidence indicated that ADHD may cause a person to have an exaggerated response to threats.

Issue(s)

Section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 states in relation to self-defence that:

(3) The question whether the degree of force used by D was reasonable in the circumstances is to be decided by reference to the circumstances as D believed them to be, and subsections (4) to (8) also apply in connection with deciding that question.

(4) If D claims to have held a particular belief as regards the existence of any circumstances – (a) the reasonableness or otherwise of that belief is relevant to the question whether D genuinely held it; but (b) if it is determined that D did genuinely hold it, D is entitled to rely on it for the purposes of subsection (3), whether or not— (i) it was mistaken, or (ii) (if it was mistaken) the mistake was a reasonable one to have made.

The issue in this case was:

  1. How should the jury treat the defendant’s mental illnesses when determining whether the degree of force used is reasonable?
Decision

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. The prosecution accepted that punching the uncle would have been reasonable force if the uncle had attacked first. If the defendant was the sole aggressor, by contrast, then it was plainly not reasonable to punch the uncle: his ADHD was irrelevant.

This Case is Authority For…

This case indicates that mental illness is only relevant to the question of whether force is necessary in the first place (i.e. whether the defendant is under attack), and not to the question of whether the force used was reasonable.