R v Reed (Nicholas) – Case Summary

R v Reed (Nicholas)

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1982] Crim LR 819.


The defendant was convicted of conspiracy to aid and abet suicide. He was part of a society which visited suicidal individuals. Members of the society would then try to dissuade the suicide. However, members would provide individuals practical assistance to kill themselves if the member concluded that the individual could not be deterred. The defendant agreed to carry out the society’s activities, but no one actually committed suicide as a result of the defendant’s efforts.

  1. Was the defendant guilty of conspiracy?

The Court held that the defendant had committed conspiracy.

This Case is Authority For…

Where defendants conspire to commit an offence, there is no need for them to complete the offence in order to convict them of conspiracy.


This case shows that ‘conditional intent’ can be sufficient for conspiracy. In this case, the defendant agreed that he would either dissuade the suicide or abet it – and only the latter is a crime. However, it was enough that the defendant agreed to commit a criminal offence if he thought the suicidal person could not be deterred.

The court noted, however, that conditional intent would not be sufficient if the commission of an offence is completely incidental to the purpose of the agreement.