The front garden of a house was not a public place within s.139(7) Criminal Justice Act 1988 even where it was only a narrow strip between the house and the pavement.Appeal against convictions of the appellant ('R') on charges of affray and having a bladed article in a public place. The police were called to R's house after receiving an emergency call. When a police man tried to enter the house there was a struggle with R and the police man and R fell over the wall separating the front garden of R's house from the one next door. After further fighting R was restrained and taken to the police station. He was searched and found to have a lock knife in his trouser pocket. At trial R submitted that there was no case to answer on the second count because the front garden was not a public place within s.139(7) Criminal Justice Act 1988. The judge accepted that the front garden was not a place to which the public was permitted access but held that it should be included in a purposive interpretation of the legislation since the garden was only a metre deep and it was therefore possible for R from the garden to use the knife against a passing pedestrian. R appealed against his conviction arguing that the judge's interpretation was wrong.HELD: (1) The judge was not entitled to direct the jury that the front garden was a public place. He was wrong to hold that a public place could include land adjacent to areas to which the public had access provided that the harm against which the section was designed to provide protection could be inflicted from such a place. (2) The judge should have upheld the defence submission of no case to answer on the second count. The conviction on that count was quashed. (3) The defective ruling in relation to the second count did not affect the charge of affray. The judge dealt with the two counts separately and there was no possibility of confusion in the minds of the jury. The conviction for affray stood and the sentence was unaffected.Appeal allowed in part.

[2003] EWCA Crim 2753

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