Regina v Denton: CACD 1987

Necessity not a defence to reckless driving

The trial judge had refused to leave to the jury the defence of necessity, which the appellant sought to bring to a road traffic allegation.
Held: The appeal failed. Caulfield J referred to the authorities, and said: ‘In view of our ultimate decision it is not necessary to review, still less to comment, on the law of this alleged defence of necessity. This is so because this court takes the view that even if necessity as a defence can be raised in a charge of reckless driving, it certainly could not be raised on the facts relied upon by the appellant in his defence. The appellant did not assert that he had to take risks of causing harm to others to escape from his pursuers or that he had to drive recklessly or that he did not give the nature of his driving a thought. He asserted in terms: ‘I did not take risks, I drove carefully throughout.’ In our view, such assertions exclude any possible defence of necessity, even assuming there is such a defence. The necessity if any, was to drive, not to drive recklessly.’
As to Willer, the court said: ‘This authority might be taken to suggest that the court assumed that on the facts of the case the defence of necessity could have been raised to a charge of reckless driving. We do not think this authority goes so far. We think it shows that the court doubted whether necessity as a defence could have been raised on the facts of that case but the court saw no need to decide whether such a defence existed as a matter of law. The court said a very different defence was available, which was duress, which should have been left to the jury It should be observed that where the headnote says, at p. 225. ‘Further the judge erred in ruling that the defence of necessity was not available to the defendant’ it is referring to the argument advanced by the appellant and not to the decision of the appellate court.’

Caulfield J
(1987) Cr App R 246
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Willer (Mark Edward) CACD 1986
The defendant appealed against his conviction for reckless driving (absolute discharge and ten penalty points). He drove his car slowly on the pavement in front of a shopping precinct. He said that this had seemed to him to be the only way in which . .

Cited by:
CitedRegina v Conway CACD 28-Jul-1988
The defendant appealed against his conviction for reckless driving. He said the offence was committed out of necessity, since his passenger’s life was under threat.
Held: Necessity can only be a defence to a charge of reckless driving where . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Road Traffic, Crime

Leading Case

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.470727