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Defences DuressCoercion Notes

Irish BCL Notes > Irish Criminal Law Notes

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Duress/Coercion The State v Walsh (SC 1981) Facts

* The plaintiffs, a married couple, had been called before the courts on charges of contempt, as a result of statements made by them about the Special Criminal Court.

* There was a common law presumption that the act of a wife committed in the presence of her husband was a result of his coercion. Issue

* Duress - Common Law Presumption Judgment

* Even a rebuttable presumption based on the idea that a wife but not a husband can be coerced is repugnant to Article 40.1. People v Whelan (CCA 1933) Facts

* The accused was charged with receiving stolen goods and in his defence, claimed that he had acted under the influence of violent threats. Issue

* Duress Judgment (Murnaghan J)

* Threats of immediate death or violence that are so great to overbear ordinary human resistance should be accepted as justification for acts which would otherwise be criminal.

* This principle should be subject to some limitations - e.g. murder can not be justified. DPP for Northern Ireland v Lynch (HoL 1975) Facts

* The accused had aided a group of IRA men when they went to kill a police officer.

* He claimed that he had only participated as he had been subject to threats. Issue

* Duress - Application to secondary offenders Judgment

* Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest (concurring)

* A man who aids and abets a murder under duress is in a different situation to someone who actually kills someone under duress - death is a certainty in the latter, but not in former.

* Thus the an aider or abettor of a murder should be allowed to rely on the defence of duress.

* Lord Wilberforce (concurring)

* In the history of law, the defence of duress seems to have evolved separately from the issues of acts or will - thus it should not be analysed in the context of intention.

* On a matter of common sense, the duress required to justify a crime must

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