Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 24, 2003

A conviction for having an offensive weapon, namely a bottle, was unsafe as the judge had misdirected the jury on the necessary intent and introduced an element of recklessness.Appeal with leave of the single judge, against conviction for possession of an offensive weapon imposed at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court on 22 August 2002 before HH Judge Fabyan Evans. The defendant ('D') was fined ?2,000. On 4 January 2002, three professional footballers, including D, were asked to leave a nightclub by doormen and a scuffle broke out outside the club. After the two groups separated, the doormen returned to the club and D picked up a bottle throwing it in the general direction of the doormen. At trial the judge directed the jury that it was necessary to prove D had the bottle in a public place with the intention that it might be used to cause injury. The jury asked for more help on the question of intent. The judge directed that the nature of intent could be inferred by the actions of D either by him deliberately throwing the bottle not caring, but aware, it may hit someone or if he directed it towards people and thus ran the risk that someone might have been injured. D appealed conviction on the ground that the judge misdirected the jury on the necessary intent to find the offence and introduced an element of recklessness.HELD: (1) A bottle could be an offensive weapon, under s.1(4) Prevention of Crime Act 1953, if the Crown could prove D intended to use it as such. The only gloss on the definition was in Pattison and Block QBD (Unreported 12/9/1984) where it was held that intention included an intention to use the article as a weapon if the occasion arose. The main factual issue the jury had to decide was whether the bottle had been thrown to the floor in a fit of temper or thrown at the doormen deliberately. (2) It was clear that the judge intended to assist the jury to reach a view of D's intention at the time he had the bottle. However, the words used might have lead the jury to think it was enough for the Crown to prove D had the bottle, reckless as to how it might have been used on some future occasion. It was possible that the jury reached its decision on a false basis. There was sufficient evidence to convict D had it not been for the confusion over the misdirection, however the conviction could not be regarded as safe.Appeal allowed.