INTENTION • In this lecture we will consider: • How the Prosecution may prove intention; • The concepts of direct and oblique intent.
Proving intention • How can the Prosecution prove what was going on in D’s mind when he performed the actus reus? • S.8 Criminal Justice Act 1967 • Jury will look at the whole situation, including D’s level of intellect.
DIRECT INTENT • What D aims / means to happen. • In determining whether a person acted with intent one would always look for direct intent first.
OBLIQUE INTENT • A direction in terms of oblique intent should only be given in those exceptional situations where there is evidence that D may have acted with some purpose other than to produce the proscribed consequence. • I.e the consequence is not desired for its own sake but a decision has been made which will bring it about.
1. probable or • 2. highly probable or • 3. virtually certain or • 4. certain
The first leading case to consider oblique intent was Hyam (1975) in which D claimed that she had not meant to kill but had foreseen death or gbh as a highly probable result of her actions.
Moloney - foresight on D’s part of a consequence occurring is merely evidence from which an inference of intent may be drawn by the jury. • Intent may be inferred where the relevant consequence is objectively foreseen as a natural consequence of D’s act and D himself also foresaw it as a natural consequence.
Hancock & Shankland (1986) – a jury might infer intention where a consequence was foreseen as highly probable.
Nedrick (1986) - Jury can infer intent if death/gbh was virtually certain to occur and D foresaw it as virtually certain to occur.
Woollin (1998) - trial judges should give the Nedrick direction save that the trial judge should use the words “may find” rather than “infer.” • Their Lordships seemed to equate foresight of virtual certainty with intention. See, for example, Lord Steyn: “A result foreseen as virtually certain is an intended result.” • But if such foresight equalled intention, why say “may”?
Must a consequence be objectively virtually certain if D himself has foreseen it? The court approved the Nedrick direction which requires objective foresight but Steyn's judgment suggests that it is not necessary, so the position is unclear.
In Matthews (2003), the CA confirmed that the guidelines are not a rule of law (intention is proven if death/gbh was a virtual certainty and D foresaw death/gbh as a virtual certainty) – rather, they are a rule of evidence - that the jury are not entitled to find an intention to kill or do gbh proved unless death/gbh was a virtual certainty and D foresaw death/gbh as a virtual certainty.
Thus, even if the guidelines are satisfied this would not automatically lead to the jury finding that D had the requisite intent. • The court did, however, acknowledge that there is very little difference between a rule of evidence and one of substantive law.