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Mens Rea of Assault. The issue in this case is whether Matthews admitted actions, which were carried out as a joke, would constitute as a relevant defence to the charge of assault held against him

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Introduction

Transfer-Encoding: chunked Matthew has been charged with assault. His victim, John, was an annoying man with whom Matthew frequently argued. John had a habit of sitting in his back garden listening to Radio 4 at a level which, while not excessive, was sufficient to irritate Matthew. One day, Matthew feels he has had enough of being forced to listen to Radio 4 from the other side of the fence. He dons a balaclava and rushes down the side of the house and into John?s garden, brandishing his son?s toy gun and shouting incoherently. John is naturally extremely alarmed by this, as is the old lady who lives on the other side of John, who witnesses this from her bedroom window. She phones for the police who arrive to find John in a state of shock, and the replica gun (complete with fingerprints) lying on the patio. On questioning John, it is clear that he thought the gun was real. On being questioned, Matthew admits that it was him, but asserts that he only meant to get John to turn down the radio, and had thought it would be a bit of a joke. ...read more.

Middle

Thus, eventually fuelled Matthew?s anger, establishing evil intent, which was enough to motivate him to take matters into his own hands against John. However, although Matthew?s plan was to get the music turned down his conduct constituted to the crime of assault and therefore he would be convicted on that basis. It is said that if the accused?s conduct clearly shows an intention to commit a crime, he cannot raise a successful defence by asserting that he was joking.[9] The judgement of Lord Advocates Reference (No.2 of 1992)[10] was applied in the case of Quinn v Lees.[11] This case involved a man who set his dog on a group of young boys whilst commanding ?Rover Bite?. The accused argued that it had all been part of a joke and he did not intend to assault the boys. The court on appeal held that it could not be suggested that the dog would be able to distinguish between a joke and a command.[12] Although there was enough sufficient evidence to prove that it wasn?t a joke, it was held that even if it was a joke it was not a defence and merely just a motive. ...read more.

Conclusion

Playing a joke on somebody is not the intention of the accused but the motive driving him or her to bring about their desired result. Matthew?s inferences at the time of the incident remain intentional and constitute to the conviction of assault. ________________ [1] Catherine Elliott & Frances Quinn, Criminal Law, <http://catalogue.pearsoned.co.uk/assets/hip/gb/hip_gb_pearsonhighered/samplechapter/140828071X.pdf>accessed 24/10/16 [2] Sarah Christie, An Introduction to Scots Criminal Law (2nd edn, Dundee University Press 2009) 19 [3] Sarah Christie, An Introduction to Scots Criminal Law (2nd edn, Dundee University Press 2009) 35 [4] Andrew Cubie, Scots Criminal Law (3rd edn, Bloomsbury Professional Limited 2010) para 2.1 [5] 1993 SLT 460 [6] Ibid 5 [7] Sarah Christie, An Introduction to Scots Criminal Law (2nd edn, Dundee University Press 2009) 132 [8] Ibid 5 [9] Sarah Christie, An Introduction to Scots Criminal Law (2nd edn, Dundee University Press 2009) 37 [10] Ibid 5 [11] 1994 SCCR 159 [12] Sarah Christie, An Introduction to Scots Criminal Law (2nd edn, Dundee University Press 2009) 36 [13] 1998 SLT 414 [14] Sarah Christie, An Introduction to Scots Criminal Law (2nd edn, Dundee University Press 2009) 36 [15] [1950] 2 KB 237 at 253 [16] Sarah Christie, An Introduction to Scots Criminal Law (2nd edn, Dundee University Press 2009) 37 [17] 1974 SLT 3 [18] Ibid 5 [19] Ibid 11 [20] Ibid 13 ...read more.

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