Beckford v The Queen: PC 15 Jun 1987

(Jamaica) Self defence permits a defendant to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances as he honestly believed them to be. ‘If then a genuine belief, albeit without reasonable grounds, is a defence to rape because it negatives the necessary intention, so also must a genuine belief in facts which if true would justify self-defence be a defence to a crime of personal violence because the belief negatives the intent to act unlawfully.’ At a practical level, where there are no reasonable grounds to hold a belief it will only exceptionally that a jury will conclude that such a belief was or might have been held. Lord Griffiths said: ‘There may be a fear that the abandonment of the objective standard demanded by the existence of reasonable grounds for belief will result in the success of too many spurious claims of self defence. The English experience has shown this not to be the case.’

Lord Griffiths
[1987] 3 WLR 611, (1987) 85 Cr App R 378, [1987] 3 All ER 425, [1988] 1 AC 130, [1987] UKPC 1, [1987] UKPC 17
Bailii, Bailii
AppliedRegina v Morgan HL 30-Apr-1975
The defendants appealed against their convictions for rape, denying mens rea and asserting a belief (even if mistaken) that the victim had consented.
Held: For a defence of mistake to succeed, the mistake must have been honestly made and need . .
AppliedRegina v Williams (Gladstone) CACD 28-Nov-1983
The defendant believed that the person whom he assaulted was unlawfully assaulting a third party. That person was a police officer, who said he was arresting the other, but did not show his warrant card.
Held: The court considered the issue of . .
RejectedRegina v Chisam CCA 1963
A defendant’s belief founding a plea of self defence must be both honest and reasonable. A sufficient justification was established if the accused genuinely believed on reasonable grounds that a relative or friend was in imminent danger of injury, . .
RejectedRegina v Fennell CACD 1971
A father was accused of assaulting a police constable in order to release his son from custody. He pleaded self defence, saying that he had believed the arrest unlawful.
Held: The defence failed. A defendant seeking to justify an assault, . .
ApprovedRegina v Williams CACD 1986
The defendant was charged with threatening to kill.
Held: Evidence of previous threatening and violent conduct of Williams towards the victim was rightly admitted to establish an intention on the part of the defendant that the victim should . .

Cited by:
CitedMartin v Regina CACD 30-Oct-2001
The defendant had shot a burglar who had entered his isolated home at night. He claimed self defence, but the burglar appeared to have been shot as he retreated. A defendant is entitled to use reasonable force to protect himself, others for whom he . .
CitedRegina v G and R HL 16-Oct-2003
The defendants, young boys, had set fire to paper and thrown the lit papers into a wheelie bin, expecting the fire to go out. In fact substantial damage was caused. The House was asked whether a conviction was proper under the section where the . .
CitedB (A Minor) v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 23-Feb-2000
Prosecution to prove absence of genuine belief
To convict a defendant under the 1960 Act, the prosecution had the burden of proving the absence of a genuine belief in the defendant’s mind that the victim was 14 or over. The Act itself said nothing about any mental element, so the assumption must . .
CitedRegina v Scarlett CACD 18-May-1993
The force used by the defendant in self defence was justified even though there was a mistake as to the extent to which force was required. ‘If the mental element necessary to prove an assault is an intention to apply unlawful force to the victim, . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Armstrong-Braun Admn 5-Oct-1998
A building site was subject to a requirement to move great crested newts before work could proceed. The defendant, a local councillor interfered to prevent a digger destroying the land until the newts had been moved. He appealed his conviction for . .
CitedRegina v Hatton (Jonathan) CACD 26-Oct-2005
The defendant appealed his conviction for murder saying that his defence of having killed by virtue of a mistake which arose from his self-induced intoxication should have been allowed.
Held: The appeal failed. It had been argued that the . .
CitedAshley and Another v Sussex Police CA 27-Jul-2006
The deceased was shot by police officers raiding his flat in 1998. The claimants sought damages for his estate. They had succeeded in claiming damages for false imprisonment, but now appealed dismissal of their claim for damages for assault and . .
CitedAshley and Another v Chief Constable of Sussex Police HL 23-Apr-2008
The claimants sought to bring an action for damages after a family member suspected of dealing drugs, was shot by the police. At the time he was naked. The police officer had been acquitted by a criminal court of murder. The chief constable now . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.183213