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R v Roberts [1971] EWCA Crim 4 Court of Appeal

A young woman aged 21 accepted a lift from the defendant at a party to take her to another party. She had not met the man before and it was 3.00 am. The defendant drove in a different direction to where he told her he was taking her and then stopped in a remote place and started making sexual advances towards her. She refused his advances and he drove off at speed. He then started making further advances whilst driving and she jumped out of the moving car to escape him. She suffered from concussion and cuts and bruises. The defendant was convicted of actual bodily harm under s.47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. He appealed contending that he did not intend or foresee a risk of her suffering actual bodily harm from his actions and that he did not foresee the possibility of her jumping out of the car and therefore her actions amounted to a novus actus interveniens.


There is no need to establish an intention or recklessness as to the level of force under s.47. It is sufficient to establish that the defendant had intention or was reckless as to the assault or battery.
Where the victim's actions were a natural result of the defendant's actions it matters not whether the defendant could foresee the result. Only where the victim’s actions were so daft or unexpected that no reasonable man could have expected it would there be a break in the chain of causation.
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