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R v Conway [1988] 3 All ER 1025

The appellant was driving with a passenger, Mr Tonna, in his car. Tonna had been in a vehicle a few weeks earlier, when another man was shot and severely injured and Tonna was chased and narrowly escaped. Tonna had been the intended victim of the shooting. The appellant noticed that a car was following him and fearing that it was the person responsible for the shooting, drove off at great speed and recklessly. In fact the car was driven by two plain clothed policemen. The trial judge ruled that the defence of necessity could not be raised. The appellant was convicted of reckless driving and appealed.

Held:

Conviction quashed. The defence of duress of circumstances should have been put to the jury.

Woolf LJ:


"As the learned editors point out in Smith and Hogan, Criminal Law (6th edn, 1988) p 225, to admit a defence of `duress of circumstances' is a logical consequence of the existence of the defence of duress as that term is ordinarily understood, i.e. `do this or else'. This approach does no more than recognise that duress is an example of necessity. Whether `duress of circumstances' is called `duress' or `necessity' does not matter. What is important is that, whatever it is called, it is subject to the same limitations as the `do this or else' species of duress."

 

Back to lecture outline on the defence of Duress in Criminal Law