R v Morrison (Lawrence Andrew) – Case Summary

R v Morrison (Lawrence Andrew)

Court of Appeal

Citations: (1989) 89 Cr App R 17.


The police entered a building to make an arrest. One officer found the defendant hiding behind a door on the second floor, and told him he was under arrest. He responded by running for the window. The officer grabbed his clothes, and as a result was dragged through the window as he crashed through the glass. She suffered serious cuts and permanent scarring as a result.

A jury convicted the defendant of wounding with intent to resist arrest under s.18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. The defendant appealed on the grounds that the judge had incorrectly directed the jury by telling them that ‘recklessness‘ was an objective test.

  1. For the purposes of the offences against the person, does recklessness impose a subjective or objective test?

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. The judge had been incorrect to direct the jury that the test of recklessness was objective. Following the ruling in, R v Cunningham (1957) 41 Cr App R 155, the test is now subjective.

This Case is Authority For…

A person is ‘reckless’ within the meaning of the criminal law if they subjectively foresaw that the proscribed outcome might come about as a result of their actions.


Older statutes such as the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 sometimes use the word ‘maliciously’ or ‘malice’. The courts will normally interpret this as requiring subjective recklessness.