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Criminal | Offences Against The Person

Non-Fatal Offences: GBH Liability

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Grievous Bodily Harm or Wounding

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  • section 20 / either way offence / maximum 5yrs imprisonment
  • section 18 / indictable offence / maximum life imprisonment

Actus reus GBH (s20 and s18):


  • Must be unlawful / context s20 usually means no consent


  • Requires break in skin / blood / wound
  • V hit by airgun pellet / eye internal bleeding / no break skin no wounding (JCC v Eisenhower)

Grievous Bodily Harm:

  • Ordinary & natural meaning / really serious harm
  • Combined injuries / broken nose, 3 lost teeth & concussion / amounted to GBH (Brown & Stratton)
  • D had sex with Vs / knowing HIV positive / Vs contracted / convicted GBH (Dica)
  • Vs age may be relevant/ bruises on baby sufficient (Bollom)
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Grievous Bodily Harm or Wounding

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Mens rea GBH (s20):


  • Confirmed maliciously meant intentionally or recklessly (Savage)
  • Sufficient prove intended some unlawful bodily harm / even minor / or subjectively reckless to risk
  • Lord Diplock: ..It is enough that he should have foreseen that some physical harm to some person, albeit of a minor character, might result... (Mowatt)
  • foreseeing harm might occur is sufficient (A v DPP)

Mens rea GBH (s18):


  • as under GBH (s20)

Specific intent

  • Further specific intent must be proved
  • Prove D intended grievous bodily harm to V / resist or prevent lawful arrest or detention
  • D slashed V with razor / V severe wounds face & chest / held essential to prove specific intent / foreseeing such harm or being reckless insufficient (Belfon)
  • Sufficient if D foresaw that GBH or wounding was virtual certainty as a result of his conduct (Nedrick)
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