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R v Bird [1985] 1 WLR 816

The appellant was at a party on her 17th birthday. Her ex-boyfriend, Darren Marder, turned up with his new girlfriend. A heated argument developed between the two and the appellant asked him to leave. He did so but later returned. A further argument occurred and the appellant poured a glass of pernod over him. Marder slapped her and pinned her against a wall. The appellant punched him in the face and claimed that she had forgotten that she had a glass in her hand. The glass broke causing Marder to lose his eye. She was charged with wounding under s.20 of the Offences Against Person Act 1861. She argued she acted in self -defence. The trial judge directed the jury that in order to rely on self-defence, the defendant must demonstrate that she did not want to fight. The jury convicted her and she appealed contending that there was no obligation to demonstrate an unwillingness to fight.


Appeal allowed. The conviction was quashed. Whilst withdrawing or demonstrating an unwillingness to fight is good evidence that the defendant is acting reasonably and in good faith in self defence, there was no absolute obligation to demonstrate an unwillingness to retreat.
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