Crime XXXXXXXXXVIII – s.18 and s.20 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) IV

1. Wounding is defined as a break in the skin. In Moriarty v Brookes (1834) a publican tried to evict a customer who was causing a disturbance and refused to leave. The publican put his arm around the man’s shoulders and tried to evict the man and in doing so injured him below the eye (there was a cut in the skin which resulted in bleeding).

‘If the violence which occurred took place in an endeavor by the defendant to turn the plaintiff out of the house, the third plea is proved. However, this plea does not profess to justify any wounding; therefore, if there was a wound, the plaintiff is entitled to recover for that. It is proved that the plaintiff was cut under the eye, and that it bled; and I am of opinion that, that is a wound.’

The publican was found guilty and was deemed to have used too much force or excessive force.

If there is no break in the skin for example there is only a rapture of internal blood vessels, then as far as s.18 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) is concerned, it will not amount to or be classed or categorized as a wounding.

In JJC v Eisenhower (1984) the defendant, a minor, fired multiple rounds with an air-gun at a group of people and another minor in the group sustained injuries when he was hit by a pellet from the air-gun in the face and it caused the blood vessels below the surface of the skin to rupture. The defendant was charged under s.18 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) and the question before the court was whether a s. 18 wounding requires a break in the skin.

The court decided that a conviction under s.18 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) requires actual wounding i.e. a break in the continuity of the skin and even a scratch, for that matter, would not suffice.

Likewise, a defendant cannot be found guilty of causing or precipitating a psychiatric illness under s.18, because while psychiatric illnesses are recognized as physical injuries there is no break in the continuity of the skin but the defendant can be convicted under s47 of the Offences Against Person Act 1861 see R v Ireland (1998).

Copyright © 2019 by Dyarne Ward


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