Regina v Hyam: HL 1974

The defendant had burnt down the house of her rival in love, thereby killing her children. The judge directed the jury to convict the defendant of murder if she knew that it was highly probable that her act would cause death or serious bodily harm. The jury convicted her of murder.
Held: The House considered what state of mind, apart from the case where a defendant acts with the purpose of killing or causing serious injury, may be sufficient to constitute the necessary intention for murder. The House differed in their reasons for upholding the conviction. One adopted the ‘highly probable’ test; another thought a test of probability was sufficient; and a third thought it was sufficient if the defendant realised there was ‘a serious risk.’


[1974] 2 All ER 41 HL(E), [1974] 2 WLR 607, [1975] AC 55


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Shivpuri HL 15-May-1986
The defendant had been accused of attempting to import controlled drugs, but the substances actually found were not in fact a controlled drug, though he had believed and intended them to be. He appealed saying that he should not be conviced of an . .
CitedRegina v Woollin HL 2-Apr-1998
The defendant appealed against his conviction for the murder of his child. He had thrown the child to the floor, hitting the head. He said that he had not intended to kill the child.
Held: On a murder charge, where the short direction on . .
NarrowedRegina v Moloney HL 21-Mar-1984
The defendant appealed against his conviction for murder.
Held: The appeal was allowed and a conviction for manslaughter substituted.
Lord Bridge of Harwich discussed the case of Hyam: ‘But looking on their facts at the decided cases . .
CitedRegina v Morgan HL 30-Apr-1975
The defendants appealed against their convictions for rape, denying mens rea and asserting a belief (even if mistaken) that the victim had consented.
Held: For a defence of mistake to succeed, the mistake must have been honestly made and need . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.183163