Regina v Smith (Wesley): 1963

A group of men set upon a man in a bar and he was stabbed to death.The court considered the law of joint offences. The trial judge had directed the jury: ‘Manslaughter is unlawful killing without an intent to kill or do grievous bodily harm. Anybody who is party to an attack which results in an unlawful killing which results in death is a party to the killing.
. . a person who takes part in or intentionally encourages conduct which results in a criminal offence will not necessarily share the exact guilt of the one who actually strikes the blow. His foresight of the consequences will not necessarily be the same as that of the man who strikes the blow, the principal assailant, so that each may have a different form of guilty mind, and that may distinguish their respective criminal liability. Several persons, therefore, present at the death of a man may be guilty of different degrees of crime – one of murder, others of unlawful killing, which is manslaughter. Only he who intended that unlawful and grievous bodily harm should be done is guilty of murder. He who intended only that the victim should be unlawfully hit and hurt will be guilty of manslaughter if death results.’ The defendant now appealed against his conviction for manslaughter.
Held: The appeal was dismissed because the appellant knew the principal had a knife. However, a radical departure by the primary killer from the foreseen purpose of an enterprise might relieve a secondary party of liability. The greater the difference between the act actually committed and the behaviour that was within contemplation, the more likely that the jury will infer that the appellant did not foresee the murder.


[1963] 1 WLR 1200, 128 JP 13, [1963] 3 All ER 597

Cited by:

CitedRahman and Others, Regina v HL 2-Jul-2008
The defendants appealed against their convictions for murder. None had themselves inflicted any violence, but were convicted as part of a joint enterprise. They said they had not known that the principal carried a knife. They said that the evidence . .
CitedJogee and Ruddock (Jamaica) v The Queen SC 18-Feb-2016
Joint Enterprise Murder
(and in Privy Council) The two defendants appealed against their convictions (one in Jamaica) for murder, under the law of joint enterprise. Each had been an accessory when their accomplice killed a victim with a knife. The judge in Jogee had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 15 May 2022; Ref: scu.270890