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R v Willer (1986) 83 Cr App R 225 Court of Appeal

The appellant had been convicted of reckless driving. As he drove up a narrow road he was confronted with a gang of shouting and brawling youths. He heard one of them shouting, "I'll kill you Willer" and another threatening to kill his passenger. He stopped and tried to turn the car around. The youths surrounded him. They banged on the car. The appellant mounted the pavement in order to escape. The trial judge ruled that the defence of necessity was not applicable and the appellant was convicted of reckless driving. He appealed against the judge's ruling.


Conviction quashed. The Court of Appeal held that the defence of duress should have been available.

Watkins LJ:

"What ought to have happened therefore was that the Assistant Recorder upon those facts should have directed that he would leave to the jury the question as to whether or not upon the outward or return journey, or both, the appellant was wholly driven by force of circumstances into doing what he did and did not drive the car otherwise than under that form of compulsion, i.e., under duress."


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