• In the criminal case of Jaggard v Dickinson [1981] QB 527, it was held that where legislation provides a defence to charge through a belief, and the D believed such at the time, he will not be guilty – even where the belief arose from a drunken mistake.  

Facts of Jaggard v Dickinson [1981] QB 527

  • A friend of the D was given permission to use their home
  • The D was drunk upon returning to the home and mistakenly tried entering a similar home on the same street
  • The owner of that home would not let her gain access, so she did so by breaking the windows (which in turn damaged the curtains)
  • Under s1(1) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971, D was charged with criminal damage
  • Relying upon s5(2) of the same act, the D believed she had the defence of belief as, at the time of the incident, she believed it to be the home she had consent to access and therefore consent to damage such
  • The judge convicted her on the basis that she should not have access to the defence due to her self-induced intoxication at the time of the crime (and thus would be excluded as per Majewski [1977])

Issues in Jaggard v Dickinson [1981] QB 527

  • Could the D rely upon the defence even if she was intoxicated?

Held by the Divisional Court

Appeal allowed. Even where the D is self-induced intoxicated, statute with the defence of honest belief can apply.

Justice Mustill

Whilst, in other circumstances, the intoxication of the D would withhold them from relying on a defence, that is not the case here. Justice Mustill was able to distinguish from such circumstances as the D had not relied upon the intoxication itself “to displace an inference of intent or recklessness; indeed she does not rely upon it at all. Her defence is founded on the state of belief called for by section 5 (2)”. [531]

Would Majewski apply?

  • “If the basis of the decision … had been that drunkenness does not prevent a person from having an intent or being reckless, then there would be grounds for saying that it should equally be left out of account when deciding on his state of belief. But this is not in our view what … Majewski decided. The House of Lords did not conclude that intoxication was irrelevant to the fact of the accused’s state of mind, but rather that, whatever might have been his actual state of mind, he should for reasons of policy be precluded from relying on any alteration in that state brought about by self-induced intoxication. The same considerations of policy apply to the intent or recklessness which is the mens rea of the offence created by section 1 (1), and that offence is accordingly regarded as one of basic intent: Reg. v. Stephenson [1979] Q.B. 695. It is indeed essential that this should be so, for drink so often plays a part in offences of criminal damage; and to admit drunkenness as a potential means of escaping liability would provide much too ready a means of avoiding conviction. But these considerations do not apply to a case where Parliament has specifically required the court to consider the accused’s actual state of belief, not the state of belief which ought to have existed.” [531]