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General Principle:

In this case attempt required proof of direct intent (aim/purpose) in respect of the result


R v Mohan [1976] QB 1


A police officer on duty saw the appellant driving a vehicle. It looked that the car was exceeding the legal speed limit. The officer blocked the vehicle's route and signalled the appellant to stop. The car slowed down, but when it was around 10 yards away from the police, it accelerated sharply and drove directly towards the officer, who stepped out of the path to escape being struck. The appellant was charged with three counts, one of which stated that on the day in issue, while in control of a motor vehicle, he intended to cause physical injury to a police officer by driving recklessly. In relation to this charge, the judge instructed the jury that the Crown must prove that the appellant intentionally drove the vehicle recklessly and that he must have realised at the time that, unless he stopped or there was some other intervening factor, such driving was likely to cause bodily harm, or that he was reckless as to whether bodily harm was caused, but that it was not necessary to prove that he intended to cause bodily harm. The appellant was found guilty on this count and filed an appeal.


The judge erred in instructing the jury that it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the defendant intentionally drove wantonly, realising that such wanton driving would be likely to cause bodily harm to the police officer (unless interrupted), OR that the defendant was reckless as to whether such bodily harm would be caused by his wanton driving. The defendant was charged with attempting to cause the police officer bodily harm through wanton driving. The Court of Appeal in R v Mohan quashed D’s conviction, ruling that a conviction for an attempt to cause bodily harm by dangerous driving requires proof that D intended to cause harm by dangerous driving. It was not sufficient to prove that D did not care whether he hit the police officer when attempting to escape, nor that he knew it was likely.


In the same way, the court in O'Toole (2005) said that Defedant must have meant to cause damage by fire in order to be found guilty of attempted arson. Even though careless use of flammables would be enough to convict of the main crime of arson, it is not enough on its own.

R v Mohan


In relation to the mens rea of murder, it is malice aforethought. Edward must have intended to kill or cause GBH (R v Vickers [1957] 2 QB 664). (really serious harm as per DPP v Smith [1961] AC 290 or just serious harm according to R v Saunders [1985] Crim LR 230). The arguments and shouting by Edward do not suggest that his aim was to kill Dawn. However, as he hit her with a frying pan several times as hard as he could on her body and head and kicked her all over repeatedly the jury may find that it was Edward’s direct intention (R v Mohan - [1975] 2 All ER 193 ) to cause Dawn really serious harm (R v Moloney [1985] AC 905). Therefore there seems to be a strong case of Murder against Edward. However, Edward may be able to rely on the defences of Loss of Control or Diminished Responsibility.

R v Mohan

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