Mens Rea

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Elliott v C [1983]
The case involves the mens rea of recklessness. The defendant was a girl of 14 years old who had low intelligence. She lit a fire in a shed. The magistrates applied the test laid down in R v Caldwell but inferred that in his reference to "an obvious risk" Lord Diplock had meant a risk which was obvious to the particular defendant. They acquitted the defendant because they found that the defendant had given no thought at the time to the possibility of there being a risk that the shed and contents would be destroyed, and this risk would not have been obvious to her or appreciated by her if she had thought about the matter. The prosecution appealed and it was held that if the risk is one which would have been obvious to a reasonably prudent person, once it has also been proved that the particular defendant gave no thought to the possibility of there being such a risk, it is not a defence that because of limited intelligence or exhaustion she would not have appreciated the risk even if she had thought about it. She was found guilty.

R V Lawrence [ 1982]
This case involves the mens rea of recklessness
This case was decided immediately after Caldwell. D was convicted of causing death by reckless driving. He had knocked down and killed a pedestrian while riding his motorcycle along a busy urban street. He appealed on the basis that the judge had misdirected the jury. He was found not guilty. R v Seymour [1983]

The case involves the mens rea of recklessness
The defendant had an argument with his wife. In an effort to move her car out of his way by pushing it with his truck, he had jammed her body between his truck and her car, as a result of which she sustained severe injuries from which she later died. The prosecution brought a charge of common law manslaughter and the defendant was convicted. The trial judge had directed the jury that they should convict if they were satisfied that the defendant had caused the death, and had been reckless...
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