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Accomplices The Doctrine Of Common Design Notes

Irish BCL Notes > Irish Criminal Law Notes

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Accomplices - The Doctrine of Common Design Criminal Law Act, 1997 s.7 Any person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of an indictable offence shall be a principle offender. R v Bainbridge (CA 1959) Facts

* The accused bought oxygen cutting equipment for thieves who used it to rob a bank.

* He stated that he suspected that the equipment would be used for something illegal, but was unaware of the specific use to which it would be put.

* He was charged as an accomplice to the crime Issue

* Accessory - Level of Knowlege Required Judgment (Lord Parker CJ)

* It is not enough that an alleged accomplice knows that some illegal act is intended with his help - likewise it is not necessary to show that the exact crime and circumstances be known to the accused.

* If the principal does not totally vary the advice or help from the accessory and does not knowingly commit a different form of felony altogether, the man who has advised, helped, aided or abbetted will be guilty as an accessory. DPP for Northern Ireland v Maxwell (HoL 1978) Facts

* The plaintiff was a member of a paramilitary organisation.

* On the night of the incident he drove his car in front of a car of his colleagues for the purposes of leading them to a pub, knowing that they were intending to carry out a terrorist attack, the exact nature of which he was unaware.

* They threw a pipe bomb into the pub and the accused was charged as an accomplice. Issue

* Accessory Judgment

* Viscount Dilhorne (concurring)

* The question in this case is, if the crime committed by the principal was one of a number of crimes that were in the contemplation of the accused, has he the guilty mind that must be proved?

* R v Bainbridge establishes that knowledge of the actual crime is unnecessary
- in this case, the accused being aware that a shooting, bombing or arson could occur, aided and abetted whichever one in actuality did occur.

* Lord Hailsham of Marylebone (concurring)

* Lord Edmund-Davies (concurring)

* Lord Fraser of Tullybelton (concurring)

* The question of whether the accused is guilty as an accessory depends on the extent of knowledge he had of the plan in which he played a part - if he had full details, he would definitely be guilty, if he knew everything but the time and place this would be so.

* In this case, the accused knew that a violent attack would take place and this


attack would be in the form of a murder, bombing or some other paramilitary style attack, any of which he was prepared to assist in.

* However had the attack been something outside the range of attacks which the accused had in his contemplation he would not be guilty. Lord Scarman (concurring) DPP v Egan (CCA 1989)


* The accused allowed an individual to leave a van in his workshop, which arrived accompnaied by armed and masked men who had committed a robbery that the defendant was aware would take place.

* He was aware that a 'small stroke' was to take place. Issue

* Accessory - Whether before or after the fact Judgment (Costello J)

* When goods are stolen it is not necessary for the prosecution to establish whether the accused had knowledge of the means to be employed, the place from which the goods were to be stolen, the nature of the goods nor the time at which they are stolen - they need only establish that the accused was aware of the nature of the crime to be committed i.e. the theft of goods. Hu Chi-Ming v R (PC 1991) Facts

* Mr. A and a number of his friends (of which the accused was one) went to beat up a man and in doing so, killed him.

* A was carrying a length of pipe and his friends seized the man so that he could hit him with it, which resulted in his death.

* The prosecution offered to accept a plea of guilty to manslaughter from the accused, which he refused.

* He was tried for aiding and abetting murder and convicted while A was acquitted of murder and found guilty of manslaughter. Issue

* Joint Enterprise - Whether accused can be find guilty of a greater crime that the principal Judgment (Lord Lowry)

* The verdict in the principal's case is inadmissible in this one as it amounts to no more than the opinion of another jury.

* If B realises (though not necessarily intends) that A may kill or intentionally inflict serious injury, but nevertheless continues to participate with A in the venture, that will amount to a sufficient mental element for B to be guilty of murder if A, with requisite intent, kills during the course of the venture.

* In this case, the principal's arming himself with a water pipe is unequivocal evidence of what he did contemplate and the defendant by his own admission realised that a very serious assault might occur - thus he may be guilty of murder. R v Roberts (CA 1992) Facts

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