R v Rodger (Andrew) – Case Summary

R v Rodger (Andrew)

R v Rose

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1998] 1 Cr App R 143.


The appellants were prisoners, having been convicted of murder. They had recently been informed that their sentences were being increased, and became suicidal. They attempted to escape from prison, but were caught. A trial for breaking prison, they argued that they had the defence of duress or necessity: if they had not tried to escape, they would have killed themselves. The judge rejected this. The jury duly convicted them. The appellants appealed their conviction.

  1. Is a defence available where a person commits a crime to avoid suicidal impulses?

The Court of Appeal upheld the convictions. There was no external cause of the supposed necessity or duress, so there was no defence.

This Case is Authority For…

Duress and necessity are only available where the cause of the duress or necessity is external to the defendant. Purely internal emotions and impulses are insufficient. To allow internal impulses to form a defence would not be in the public interest:

‘If allowed it could amount to a licence to commit crime dependent on the personal characteristics and vulnerability of the offender. As a matter of policy that is undesirable and in our view it is not the law and should not be the law.’