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   Case summaries      R v Keane 2010


R v Keane [2010] EWCA Crim 2514 Court of Appeal

The appellant had been out drinking for the night in various pubs. In the final pub he met a man who offered him a lift home which he accepted. On the journey home the driver stopped to get petrol. The appellant got into an argument with one of the other passengers a young woman. The woman was smoking and the defendant had told her not to smoke as it was dangerous to do so. He became rude and aggressive and pushed her to the ground. The driver went to talk to the appellant. The appellant contended that he thought the driver was about to attack him so he punched him. The driver fell back and struck his head heavily on the concrete ground. He sustained serious head injuries and had no recollection of the night. The trial judge directed the jury that self-defence was not available where the defendant was the aggressor or had successfully and deliberately provoked the victim. Keane was convicted of GBH and appealed.


The appeal was dismissed. Where the defendant was the aggressor or deliberately provokes the victim into punching him, there is no guaranteed right to rely on self-defence. Self-defence may arise in the case of an original aggressor but only where the violence offered by the victim was so out of proportion to what the original aggressor did that in effect the roles were reversed. 

Back to lecture outline on self-defence in criminal law