Criminal Law

9th Edition, Palgrave Law Masters series

by Jonathan Herring

Criminal Law

This popular and long-established textbook provides a comprehensive introduction to the basic principles of criminal liability and to the main criminal offences, together with insights into the controversies and debates that surround the subject. The text is written in a clear and engaging manner, making the fundamental concepts easy to grasp.

This new edition has been comprehensively updated to reflect recent case law and statutory developments. It is an ideal companion for both law undergraduates and GDL/CPE students.

Update – September 2016
R v Jogee and the Law on Accessories

The Law on Accessories (Chapter 17) has been comprehensively reviewed and reformed by the Supreme Court in Jogee [2016] UKSC 9. Fortunately the Supreme Court has done much to make the law on accessories easier to understand.

The facts of the case

Jogee was convicted of the murder of Fyfe. Mr Fyfe was stabbed to death by Mohammed Hirsi, who pleaded guilty to murder. Jogee had been with Hirsi during the evening of the killing and told Hirsi to ‘do something’ to Fyfe. He threatened to hit Fyfe with a bottle. Hirsi stabbed Fyfe with a knife he found in the kitchen. The judge directed the jury they could convict Jogee of murder if they concluded he had taken part in the attack and realised it was possible Hirsi might use the knife with intent to cause serious harm. The Supreme Court overturned Jogee’s conviction for murder and restated the law on accomplice liability.

Actus Reus

The Supreme Court held there were two ways of being an accomplice: assisting or encouraging a crime. There are two points of particular significance in that finding.


1. The previous law focussed very much on different ways of being an accomplice: aiding, abetting, counselling; procuring and being a party to a joint enterprise. In future the jury are likely to be directed using the more modern language: did D assist or encourage the Principal in committing the offence.

2. The Supreme Court make it absolutely clear that the doctrine of joint enterprise is part of the law on accomplices. There is no separate set of rules for use in such cases. So, where D is member of a gang when the leader kills. The jury will need to decide whether D assisted or encouraged the leader to kill.

Mens rea

The Supreme Court stated that the mens rea for an accomplice was that D had to intend to assist or encourage the principal in the commission of the offence. So, a simple case would be where a husband hires a hitman to kill his wife. Clearly the husband intends to encourage the hit man to kill the wife and so has the mens rea.

The Supreme Court stated that the mens rea for an accomplice was that D had to intend to assist or encourage the principal in the commission of the offence. So, a simple case would be where a husband hires a hit man to kill his wife. Clearly the husband intends to encourage the hitman to kill the wife and so has the mens rea.


In saying that D must intend P to commit the offence the Supreme Court made it clear that D must intend that P will commit the offence with the necessary mens rea. So, in a murder case D must intend that P will kill the victim, P intending to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.


When the Supreme Court said that D must intend to assist or encourage P to commit the offence, they did not mean that D would have to know all of the details of the offence. So if D drives P to a pub, intending to help P beat up a member of a rival gang, D cold be convicted as an accomplice to an assault even though D did not know precisely who it was P was going to hit.

The most confusing part of the Supreme Court judgement concerns the concept of “conditional intent”. This covers a case where D is intending to assist P do one crime, but is willing to offer the assistance or encourage even if P goes on to do another. In such a case D will be taken to intend to assist or encourage either offence. This is best explained by way of an example. Imagine D is going to help P act as a look out while P commits a burglary. D knows that P might be interrupted by a security guard and if so P might kill the security guard, but D intends to assist P even if that is necessary. In such a case D could be an accomplice to murder if P did indeed kill the security guard. Just to be clear, D would not be an accomplice if he did not intend P to kill the security guard.

Summary

To summarise the decision in Jogee. The actus reus of being an accomplice is assisting or encouraging the principal to commit the offence. The mens rea is intending to assist or encourage the principal to commit the offence.