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8. Dpp V Majewski April 14, 1976

In this leading judgment, the House of Lords decided that a person who commits a crime but doesn’t know what he’s doing because he is so inebriated can still be convicted if it is not necessary to prove intention for that particular crime. During the course of a disturbance at a pub in Basildon, Essex, Robert Majewski attacked the landlord and two other people, injuring all three of them. When the police arrived, he assaulted an officer, and later, at the police station where he had been taken, he struck two other officers. He was charged with various assaults. At his trial he testified that during the 48 hours preceding the disturbance he had taken a considerable quantity of drugs and that, at the time when the assaults were committed, he was acting under a combination of amphetamines, barbiturates and alcohol. He didn’t know what he was doing and had no recollection of the incidents in question. He was convicted and his appeal was dismissed. The Lords held that unless the offence was one that required proof of a specific intent, it was no defence to that the accused didn’t intend to commit the act alleged. His recklessness was enough to convict him.

9. R V Bundy March 12, 1977

Clever arguments for defendants in criminal cases are sometimes confounded by simple and even cleverer ones for the prosecution. This famous case provides a good example of such a thrust, parry and counter thrust. When Dennis Bundy was stopped by police in his car, he had with him some piping, a hammer, a pipe threader and three pieces of stocking. He had been driving around following a woman who was collecting the takings from vending machines in London pubs with the apparent intention of robbing her. He was convicted of “going equipped” for theft when “not at his place of abode”. Bundy appealed on the grounds that, since he lived rough in his car, it was his abode. But in dismissing the appeal, the court held that his car was his place of abode only when after finding a site he had parked for the night, not when he was in transit.

10. R V Doukas December 3, 1977

A major judgment on the charge of going equipped to cheat. Joseph Doukas, a hotel wine waiter, had six bottles of his own wine in his coat pockets when going to work. He intended, when a customer ordered wine, to serve one of these bottles which he’d got very cheaply, to make out a separate bill and keep the money that the hotel customer paid him. The scam was that while the waiter would pocket the customer’s money, the hotel wouldn’t notice any loss of income because none of its own bottles of wine were being taken to the tables by the waiter. And the waiter would be making a profit because there was a big difference between the cheap price of the wine he smuggled in to the hotel and the expensive prices on the wine menu. An important question for the appeal court was whether a charge of going equipped to cheat was sustainable because a customer would not have been deceived if he paid for wine and got wine. Doukas’s appeal was dismissed. It was held that customers were deceived because it was reasonable to assume that they’d never have handed over cash if they’d have known that the wine wasn’t the hotel’s but rather that of the waiter’s personal stock being used in a swindle.

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