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   Case summaries      R v Hasan 2005

R v Hasan [2005] 2 WLR 709  House of Lords

The appellant worked for a woman, Claire Taeger, who ran an escort agency involving prostitution. He would drive women to clients and act as a minder. Taeger then became involved with another man, Frank Sullivan, who was a violent drug dealer. Sullivan took over much of the appellant’s work and friction developed between the two. The appellant was aware that Sullivan was a dangerous man and Sullivan had boasted to the appellant about three murders he had recently committed. One night Sullivan and another man known only as “Lunatic Yardie” ambushed the appellant outside his home. Sullivan told him to commit a burglary on a house owned by one of Taeger’s clients. He told him that “Lunatic Yardie” would accompany him to ensure that the burglary was carried out and threatened that if he did not do so he and his family would be harmed. The appellant complied and was convicted of aggravated burglary his defence of duress was rejected by the jury. He appealed to the Court of Appeal contending a mis-direction in two respects:

1.   The trial judge had stated that the jury should find him guilty and reject the defence of duress if they were sure that he could have avoided acting as he did without harm coming to his family.

2.   The trial judge had not directed the jury in line with R v Baker & Ward as to whether the defendant had foreseen that he was likely to be subjected to threats to commit a crime of the type for which he was charged.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and quashed his conviction. The facts did not suggest that the defendant could have taken evasive action and therefore there was no need to direct the jury on this point. The failure to direct in relation to foresight of the type of crime also amounted to a mis-direction. The Crown appealed to the Lords.

House of Lords Held:

The appeal was allowed and his conviction was re-instated.

There was no mis-direction on the issue of evasive action. The issue was properly put to the jury and should not be subsumed within the application of the Graham test. There was no requirement that the defendant foresaw that type of crime that he may be compelled to commit.

Lord Bingham:

“The defendant is, ex hypothesi, a person who has voluntarily surrendered his will to the domination of another. Nothing should turn on foresight of the manner in which, in the event, the dominant party chooses to exploit the defendant's subservience. There need not be foresight of coercion to commit crimes, although it is not easy to envisage circumstances in which a party might be coerced to act lawfully. In holding that there must be foresight of coercion to commit crimes of the kind with which the defendant is charged, R v Baker and Ward mis-stated the law.”

“The policy of the law must be to discourage association with known criminals, and it should be slow to excuse the criminal conduct of those who do so. If a person voluntarily becomes or remains associated with others engaged in criminal activity in a situation where he knows or ought reasonably to know that he may be the subject of compulsion by them or their associates, he cannot rely on the defence of duress to excuse any act which he is thereafter compelled to do by them.”
Back to lecture outline on the defence of duress in criminal law