Demer v Cook: 1903

The plaintiff was convicted by magistrates of indecent exposure and sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour. A warrant for his imprisonment was drawn up and he was sent to Pentonville prison. He subsequently appealed and was released on bail. On appeal the Recorder altered the original conviction in accordance with his judgment by recording that the plaintiff was guilty of indecent exposure on two separate occasions; he also amended the sentence by remitting the hard labour. The plaintiff was then returned to Pentonville together with a copy of the original conviction as amended and the original warrant for his detention issued by the magistrates, but no further warrant for his imprisonment was issued by the Recorder. The Divisional Court subsequently held that the conviction before the Recorder was bad because it alleged two distinct offences and the plaintiff was released. He now brought a claim for damages for false imprisonment against the governor of the prison for his detention on the second occasion. The governor justified his action by reference to the original conviction before the magistrates and the warrant they had issued.
Held: The conviction itself was insufficient to authorise his detention and that since the first warrant had expired a fresh warrant was necessary. Lord Alverstone CJ: ‘. . . where a gaoler receives a prisoner under a warrant which is correct in form, no action will lie against him if it should turn out that the warrant was improperly issued or that the court had no jurisdiction to issue it. These authorities in no way conclude the present case, because in this case, as already stated, no fresh warrant was issued . . .
In my opinion the documents already referred to are not equivalent to, and do not take the place of, a warrant.’


Lord Alverstone CJ


(1903) 88 LT 629

Cited by:

CitedLunn, Regina (on the Application of) v The Governor of HMP Moorland CA 25-May-2006
Having committed an offence whilst on licence, the judge had sentenced the defendant to a term of imprisonment to follow completion of the original sentence. The order drawn up by the clerk recorded that it should be served concurrently. He served . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Prisons, Torts – Other

Updated: 01 May 2022; Ref: scu.242255