Regina v Clegg: HL 25 Jan 1995

The defendant was a soldier on patrol in Northern Ireland. He was convicted of the murder of the passenger and attempted murder of the driver of a stolen car. He said he had fired in self defence. The Court of Appeal had rejected his appeal saying that on the facts it had been a grossly excessive and disproportionate use of force. The House was asked: ‘whether a soldier on duty, who kills a
person with the requisite intention for murder, but who would be entitled to rely on self-defence but for the use of excessive force, is guilty of murder or manslaughter.’
Held: The use of grossly excessive force in self defence can be no justification for murder, even when the act was committed by a soldier on duty. The alternative of manslaughter was not available in such a case.


Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead


Gazette 22-Feb-1995, Independent 01-Feb-1995, Times 25-Jan-1995, [1995] UKHL 1, [1995] 1 All ER 334, [1995] 1 AC 482




Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967


Northern Ireland


MentionedRex v Cook 1640
The intent to resist unlawful apprehension is treated as a state of mind constituting ‘that lighter degree of malice which is necessary to the crime of manslaughter’ rather than murder. . .
CitedThe Queen v Howe 1958
High Court of Australia – Criminal Law – Murder – Conviction – Quashed on appeal to Supreme Court – New trial ordered – Appeal to High Court by Crown – Special leave – Questions of law affecting law of homicide – Importance – Self-defence – . .
CitedRegina v McInnes CACD 1971
Edmund Davies LJ said: ‘But where self-defence fails on the ground that force used went clearly beyond that which was reasonable in the light of the circumstances as they reasonably appeared to the accused, is it the law that the inevitable result . .
CitedPalmer v The Queen PC 23-Nov-1970
It is a defence in criminal law to a charge of assault if the defendant had an honest belief that he was going to be attacked and reacted with proportionate force: ‘If there has been an attack so that defence is reasonably necessary, it should be . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Armed Forces

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.86397