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

The appellant had been out drinking with her boyfriend celebrating her A level results. They both became heavily intoxicated. On their return to her parents’ house an altercation occurred. He hit her, bit her and spat on her three times. She grabbed a knife from the draw. She claimed she wished to frighten him into stopping, but that he impaled himself on it. On the issue of self –defence the trial judge in his direction referred to s.76(3) Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 relating to intoxicated mistaken belief that use of force was necessary to defend oneself. The jury rejected the defence and she was convicted of manslaughter. She appealed contending that since she was actually under attack rather than acting in the belief that she was under attack the trial judge was wrong to refer to this.

Held:

Appeal dismissed. The reference to mistaken belief was an unnecessary complication which should not have been present, however, it did not render the conviction unsafe.
Back to lecture outline on self-defence in criminal law