Regina v Maxwell: HL 1990

The defendant had hired two men to enter his former partner’s house to commit robbery. It was his defence that he did not contemplate violence, and that he was only guilty of the offence of burglary. The prosecution would not add a count of burglary and opposed leaving that offence to the jury, maintaining that the crime was always intended to be a robbery, and that it was not a burglary which had gone wrong. The jury accepted this view.
Held: Lord Ackner: ‘on the facts of this case the judge was entitled to conclude that the alternative of theft was relatively so trifling that the jury’s attention upon the essential issue – did the appellant intend violence to be used? – should not be distracted.’ He opposed the view of Mustill LJ in the Court of Appeal. The test to be applied was: ‘What is required in any particular case, where the judge fails to leave an alternative offence to the jury, is that the court, before interfering with the verdict, must be satisfied that the jury may have convicted out of a reluctance to see the defendant get clean away with what, on any view, was disgraceful conduct. If they are so satisfied then the conviction cannot be safe or satisfactory.’


Lord Ackner


[1990] 1 WLR 401, (1990) 91 Cr App R 61, [1990] 1 All ER 801


England and Wales


Appeal fromRegina v Maxwell CACD 1988
The defendant admitted paying two others to burgle his partner’s home, but said he had not anticipated violence, and appealed against his conviction for robbery, saying the judge should have left the alternative verdict to the jury. The jury, during . .
ReviewedRegina v Fairbanks CACD 1986
The defendant complained that the judge had not left an alternate verdict of careless driving to the jury where he had been charged with driving a motor vehicle on the road recklessly.
Held: The conviction was quashed.
Mustill LJ said: . .

Cited by:

CitedSutton London Borough Council v S and Another QBD 26-Oct-2004
Parents had had charges brought against them by the appellant for failing to ensure the attendance of their child at school dismissed. The authority appealed.
Held: The authority should have considered more carefully whether it was appropriate . .
CitedCoutts, Regina v CACD 21-Jan-2005
The defendant appealed his conviction for murder, saying that the judge should have left to the jury the alternative conviction for manslaughter. The victim had died through strangulation during a sexual assault by the defendant. He said it had not . .
CitedHunter, Moodie v The Queen PC 8-Oct-2003
PC (Jamaica) The defendants appealed against their convictions for capital murder.
Held: The appeals were allowed, and non-capital convictions substituted. It is not enough to comply with section 2(2), for . .
CitedRegina v Coutts HL 19-Jul-2006
The defendant was convicted of murder. Evidence during the trial suggested a possibility of manslaughter, but neither the defence nor prosecution proposed the alternate verdict. The defendant now appealed saying that the judge had an independent . .
CitedRegina v Abu Hamza CACD 28-Nov-2006
The defendant had faced trial on terrorist charges. He claimed that delay and the very substantial adverse publicity had made his fair trial impossible, and that it was not an offence for a foreign national to solicit murders to be carried out . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice

Updated: 09 December 2022; Ref: scu.220043