Brend v Wood: 1946

The court discussed the need to assume that conviction for an offence required proof of mens rea.
Lord Goddard CJ said: ‘It should first be observed that at common law there must always be mens rea to constitute a crime; if a person can show that he acted without mens rea that is a defence to a criminal prosecution. There are statutes and regulations in which Parliament has seen fit to create offences and make people responsible before criminal Courts although there is an absence of mens rea, but it is certainly not the Court’s duty to be acute to find that mens rea is not a constituent part of the crime. It is of the utmost importance for the protection of the liberty of the subject that a Court should always bear in mind that unless a statute, either clearly or by necessary implication, rules out mens rea as a constituent part of a crime, the Court should not find a man guilty of an offence against the criminal law unless he has a guilty mind.’
Lord Goddard CJ
[1946] 175 LT 306, (1946) 62 TLR 462
England and Wales
Cited by:
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 K HL 25-Jul-2001
In a prosecution for an offence of indecent assault on a girl under 16 under the section, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove the absence of a positive belief in the defendant’s mind that the victim was 16 or over. The legislation history . .
CitedHarding v Price KBD 1948
Section 22 of the 1930 Act obliged a driver in certain circumstances to report an accident causing damage to another vehicle, person or animal. The defendant failed to do so because he was unaware that he had been involved in an accident. He claimed . .
CitedWarner v Metropolitan Police Commissioner HL 1968
The appellant had been convicted of an offence contrary to section 1 of the 1964 Act, of having been found in possession of drugs.
Held: (Reid dissenting) The prosecution had only to prove that the accused knew of the existence of the thing . .
CitedSweet v Parsley HL 23-Jan-1969
Mens Rea essential element of statutory Offence
The appellant had been convicted under the Act 1965 of having been concerned in the management of premises used for smoking cannabis. This was a farmhouse which she visited infrequently. The prosecutor had conceded that she was unaware that the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 05 September 2021; Ref: scu.195985