Copeland, Regina v: SC 11 Mar 2020

The Court was asked whether under the 1883 Act: for the purposes of section 4(1) can personal experimentation or own private education, absent some ulterior unlawful purpose, be regarded as a lawful object? The defendant, a young man on the autistic spectrum, had collected explosive materials expressing an interest in them for experiments. The Court of Appeal said it was bound by Riding to find that this was not a lawful object. Held (Lord Lloyd-Jones and Lord Hamblen dissenting) The appeal succeeded. Legislation had been drawn with the expectation that private hobbyists may manufacture and keep explosives for their own private use. Experimentation was a lawful object within the section.


Lord Reed, President, Lord Carnwath, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Sales, Lord Hamblen


[2020] UKSC 8, [2020] WLR(D) 148, [2021] AC 815, [2020] Crim LR 645, [2020] 4 All ER 173, [2020] 2 Cr App R 4, [2020] 2 WLR 681, UKSC 2019/0089


Bailii, WLRD, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, SC Video Summary, SC 27 Jan 2020 am Video, SC 27 Jan 2020 pm Video


Explosive Substances Act 1883 4(1), Explosives Regulations 2014


England and Wales


DistinguishedRiding, Regina v CACD 7-Apr-2009
Appeal from conviction under the 1883 Act – that the judge was wrong to hold that the reverse onus placed on a defendant by section 4 in relation to a defence of lawful object was a legal rather than an evidential onus; and that the judge was wrong . .
CitedRegina v Fegan CANI 1984
The appellant was a young Roman Catholic man married to a Protestant woman, who by reason of his religion was subjected to threats of serious violence in the Protestant area in which he lived and told to move out of the district. The appellant . .
CitedAttorney-General’s Reference (No 2 of 1983) CACD 3-Feb-1984
The defendant, a shop-keeper, found his shop to be in the middle of serious rioting. His shop had been damaged badly and he suffered looting. Fearing further attacks he stayed in his shop, making 10 petrol bombs for protection.
Held: A . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 06 August 2022; Ref: scu.649465