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R v Mowatt [1968] 1 QB 421 Court of Appeal

The defendant was out in the early hours of the morning with another. The other snatched £5 from the complainant and ran off. The complainant chased the other and when he was unable to catch him he returned to the defendant demanding to know where his friend was. The defendant felt threatened and knocked the complainant to the floor. He was found sitting astride the complainant and punching him violently on the face. The defendant was convicted of wounding under s.18 OAPA 1861. It was open for the jury to consider an offence under s.20. The trial judge in directing the jury on s.20 made no reference to the word malicious. The defendant appealed.


In the circumstances there was no need to refer to the word malicious as the defendant clearly intended by his actions to cause really serious harm.

Diplock LJ gave the following guidance in relation to the meaning of malicious under s.20:

"In the offence under Section 20, and in the alternative verdict which may be given on a charge under Section 18, for neither of which is any specific intent required, the word "maliciously" does import upon the part of the person who unlawfully inflicts the wound or other grievous bodily harm an awareness that his act may have the consequence of causing some physical harm to some other person. That is what is meant by "the particular kind of harm" in the citation from Professor Kenny. It is quite unnecessary that the accused should have foreseen that his unlawful act might cause physical harm of the gravity described in the Section, i.e. a wound or serious physical injury. It is enough that he should have foreseen that some physical harm to some person, albeit of a minor character, might result."
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