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"The Nedrick/Woolin direction on intention manages to produce a clear distinction between intention and recklessness - Explain and discuss.

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Introduction

"The Nedrick/Woolin direction on intention manages to produce a clear distinction between intention and recklessness. However, such clarity carries the price of both (a) not being able to convict people who ought to be regarded as having the culpability for murder and (b) unjust convictions for murder." Explain and discuss. Nedrick1 updated the law surrounding intention by constructing a model direction which states that a jury should be directed by the judge 'that they are not entitled to infer the necessary intention, unless they feel sure that death or serious bodily harm was a virtual certainty (barring some unforeseen intervention) as a result of the defendant's actions and that the defendant realised that such was the case'2 Woollin3 extended the verdict given in Nedrick after the 'entitled to infer' intention on the part of the jury was updated to 'entitled to find' by the judges in the Woollin case. Woollin upheld Nedrick's test after the House of Lords stated that the trial judge enlarged the scope of the mental element required for murder and had misdirected the jury. The trial judge told the jury that a 'substantial risk' as to the consequences was only required to infer intention, but the House of Lords declared that the consequences have to be (a) virtually certain and (b) known to be of virtual certainty by the defendant for a conviction of murder to be upheld. ...read more.

Middle

A House of Lords Select Committee rejected the inclusion of such a consideration into English law, largely based on the premise that those convicted of manslaughter can still receive a life sentence. As Lord Steyn said in Woollin 'Immediately below murder there is available a verdict of manslaughter which may attract in the discretion of the court a life sentence'7 Over-inclusiveness is something which has to be considered in the direction on intent encompassed by the Nedrick/Woollin model. Alan Norrie suggests that there are cases which would fall within the Nedrick/Woollin model as murder, but which should not. '[There] are cases where there is a 'moral threshold' such that even though the accused could foresee a result as virtually certain, it is so at odds with his moral conception of what he was doing that it could not be conceived as a result that he intended'8 The case of Steane9 shows how someone who foresees the consequences of their action as being virtually certain, would fall within the Nedrick/Woollin direction on intention, even though the intent was one of innocence. Norrie argues that it 'is plausible to argue that at the nub of the case lies a moral gap between what Steane did, broadcasting to assist the enemy, and his purpose, to save his family.'10 Motive is not something to be considered when deciding if a defendant has intent to commit a crime or not. ...read more.

Conclusion

as a result of the defendant's actions and that the defendant realised that such was the case. However, although this does provide a clear framework to which intention can be ascertained, it could be said to be over-inclusive in that it can be used to convict those who do not appear to be guilty of murder as well as being under-inclusive in other circumstances as it lacks the scope to convict those who should be convicted of murder, as can be seen in the terrorist example by those who act with 'wicked recklessness' Word count = 1,249 Word count including footnotes = 1,343 1 (1986) 1 W.L.R. 1025 2 (1986) 83 Cr App R 267 - Lord Steyn 3 (1999) 1 A.C. 82 4 (1985) A.C. 905 5 Alan Norrie - 'After Woollin' (1999) Crim LR 532 6 1 of the 5 Law Lords presiding over the case 7 (1998) 4 All ER 103, 112 8 Alan Norrie - 'After Woollin' (1999) Crim LR 532 9 (1947) K.B. 997 10 Alan Norrie - 'After Woollin' (1999) Crim LR 532 11 (1994) 3 W.L.R. 514 12 (1996) 1 All E.R. 13 Michael J Allen - 'Elliot and Wood's Cases and Materials on Criminal Law (Eighth Edition)' 14 William Wilson - 'Doctrinal Rationality after Woollin' (1999) 62 M.L.R 448 James Moore 1 ...read more.

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