R v Taylor (Mark Richard)
Court of Appeal
Citations:  EWCA Crim 544.
The defendant was convicted of unlawful wounding contrary to s.18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. He had attacked the complainant, who suffered minor scratches to the face (inflicted with a fork) and a stab wound to his back (inflicted with a knife).
The defendant appealed his conviction on the basis that the judge had misdirected the jury on the mens rea of the offence. The judge had told the jury that the prosecution had to prove that the defendant intended to wound or cause GBH, saying:
‘If you are sure that an attack took place then you have to consider intention but no one has suggested that someone who attacks someone else with a knife is not intending to cause them a wound. You may think that if you found that the attack took place and that it was an attack with a knife, that finding an intention to cause a wound is not
going to take you very long.’
Counsel for the defendant argued that intention to wound is not sufficient for the s.18 offence: the prosecution must specifically prove that the defendant intended to inflict GBH. The Crown accepted this point, but argued that the conviction was nevertheless safe.
- What is the mens rea of s.18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861?
The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction. An intention to inflict GBH was necessary. It was not obvious from the evidence that the defendant had an intention to cause GBH. This could not be inferred from the use of a knife alone, particularly as the injuries inflicted were mostly minor. There was a possibility that the jury had mistakenly thought that it was enough that the defendant intended to wound the complainant, so the conviction was unsafe.
This Case is Authority For…
The mens rea of s.18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 is intention to cause GBH. An intention to merely wound is not sufficient (though serious wounds might amount to GBH).