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Rodger & Rose [1998] 1 CAR 143  Court of Appeal

The two appellants were inmates in Parkhurst Prison. They learnt that the Home Secretary had increased their original tariffs. They claimed that this made them suicidal and they broke out of prison to avoid the threat of death which these circumstances had given rise.

Held:

Their appeals were dismissed and convictions upheld

Russell LJ:

“in these appeals it was solely the suicidal tendencies, the thought processes and the emotions of the offenders themselves which operated as duress. That factor introduces an entirely subjective element not present in the authorities. ….. if these appeals were to succeed it would involve an extension of the law upon this topic as hitherto reflected in authority and would introduce an entirely subjective element divorced from any extraneous influence.

We do not consider that such a development of the law would be justified, nor do we think that such an extension would be in the public interest. If allowed it would amount to a licence to commit crime dependent on the personal characteristics and vulnerability of the offender. As a matter of policy that is undesirable and in our view it is not the law and should not be the law."
Back to lecture outline on the defence of duress in criminal law