R v Jones (Kevin Edward)
R v Mirrless (Neil)
Court of Appeal
Citations: (1977) 65 Cr App R 250.
The defendants were present at the scene of a brawl between two groups of youths. The first defendant claimed not to know what was happening, while the second claimed that he went to the scene to stop the fighting, but that the brawl ended before he could do anything. Despite not taking part in the fight, they were charged with aiding and abetting assault occasioning ABH.
At trial, the jury asked the judge whether they should convict if the prosecution proved that the defendants were present at the scene for the purpose of assisting in the brawl, even though they did not actually render assistance. The trial judge told them they should convict in those circumstances. The defendants were convicted, and appealed their conviction on the grounds that the judge had misdirected the jury.
- Can mere presence alone amount to aiding and abetting an offence?
- Can mere presence with the intent to assist in an offence amount to aiding and abetting an offence?
The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions. The judge had misdirected the jury by suggesting that mere presence, or mere presence with the intent to assist, was sufficient to establish accessory liability.
This Case is Authority For…
A person cannot be convicted of aiding and abetting a crime simply because they are present at the scene of the crime without doing anything else, even if they intended to assist the crime. The jury must be satisfied that their presence both actually encouraged the crime and that the defendant intended to encourage the crime.