Director of Public Prosecutions v Santa-Bermudez: Admn 13 Nov 2003

The prosecutor appealed a finding of no case to answer on an accusation of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The victim, a police officer, was searching the pockets of an arrested person, when she was injured by a hypodermic needle. She had asked him if he had any sharps on him and he had denied it. The Crown Court judge found no evidence of ‘(positive) act on the part of the defendant capable of amounting to the actus reus of the offence of assault.’
Held: The prosecutor’s appeal succeeded. ‘A great deal of undesirable complexity has bedevilled our criminal law as a result of quasi theological distinctions between acts and omissions.’ The court proposed that ‘where someone (by act or word or a combination of the two) creates a danger and thereby exposes another to a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury which materialises, there is an evidential basis for the actus reus of an assault occasioning actual bodily harm. It remains necessary for the prosecution to prove an intention to assault or appropriate recklessness. ‘


Maurice Kay J, Mackay


[2003] EWHC 2908 (Admin), [2004] Crim LR 471




Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 1


England and Wales


CitedFagan v Metropolitan Commissioner 31-Jul-1968
The defendant was told by a police officer to park up his car. He did so, but stopped with his wheel, trapping the officer’s foot. The magistrates were unable to decide whether the parking on the officer’s foot was deliberate, but agreed that . .
CitedRegina v Roberts 1971
The complainant travelled in the appellant’s car. As he was driving, he had assaulted her in the car but not so as to cause her actual bodily harm. However, as his assault continued, she opened the car door and jumped out. This caused her to sustain . .
CitedRegina v Clarence CCCR 20-Nov-1888
The defendant knew that he had gonorrhea. He had intercourse with his wife, and infected her. She would not have consented had she known. He appealed his convictions for assault and causing grievous bodily harm.
Held: ‘The question in this . .
CitedRegina v Miller HL 17-Mar-1982
The defendant, a vagrant, fell asleep in an empty house. His lighted cigarette fell onto his mattress, and a fire started. Rather than put it out, he moved to another room. He was accused of arson.
Held: He was guilty. A defendant would be . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v K (a Minor) QBD 1990
The defendant a schoolboy aged 15 had spilled some acid during a chemistry lesson. He went to wash his hands, but took a test tube of acid with him. Hearing others coming and panicking, he poured it into an upturned hot air drier. He returned to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 04 May 2022; Ref: scu.189126