Regina v Scarlett: CACD 18 May 1993

The force used by the defendant in self defence was justified even though there was a mistake as to the extent to which force was required. ‘If the mental element necessary to prove an assault is an intention to apply unlawful force to the victim, and the accused is to be judged according to his mistaken view of the facts, whether that mistake was on an objective view reasonable or not, we can see no logical basis for distinguishing between a person who objectively is not justified in using force, but mistakenly believes that the circumstances call for a degree of force objectively regarded as unnecessary. Where, as in the present case, an accused is justified in using some force and can only be guilty of an assault if the force used is excessive, the jury ought to be directed that he cannot be guilty of an assault unless the prosecution prove that he acted with the mental element necessary to constitute his action on assault, that is that the defendant intentionally or recklessly applied force to the person of another. (See R v Venna [1975] 3 All ER 788 at 793, [1976] 1 QB 421 at 429 per James LJ)
Further, they should be directed that the accused is not to be found guilty merely because he intentionally or recklessly used force which they consider to have been excessive. They ought not to convict him and unless they are satisfied that the degree of force used was plainly more than was called for by the circumstances as he believed them to be and, provided he believed the circumstances called for the degree of force used, he is not to be convicted even if his belief was unreasonable.’

Beldam LJ
Times 18-May-1993, [1993] 4 All ER 629, 98 Cr App R 290
England and Wales
CitedBeckford v The Queen PC 15-Jun-1987
(Jamaica) Self defence permits a defendant to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances as he honestly believed them to be. ‘If then a genuine belief, albeit without reasonable grounds, is a defence to rape because it negatives the . .
CitedRegina v Venna CACD 31-Jul-1975
An assault is an act by which the defendant intentionally or recklessly causes the complainant to apprehend immediate, or to sustain, unlawful personal violence. The jury ought to be directed that the defendant cannot be guilty of an assault unless . .

Cited by:
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Armstrong-Braun Admn 5-Oct-1998
A building site was subject to a requirement to move great crested newts before work could proceed. The defendant, a local councillor interfered to prevent a digger destroying the land until the newts had been moved. He appealed his conviction for . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.87676