• In the case of R v Jones [1990] 1 WLR 1057, D would have needed to remove the safety catch of his gun pointed at V, put his finger on the trigger and pull the trigger to complete the entirety of an attempted murder offence
  • Under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981, D’s act out to have been ‘more than merely preparatory’, though this phrase did not equate to being the ‘last act within his power’

Facts of the Case

  • D (the appellant) married a woman in 1985, whom he had lived in Australia in 1986 and after their return to England in 1987, the woman had begun a relationship with V
  • The woman decided to break the relationship with D, but he continued writing to her, asking her to return to him
  • In 1988, D applied for a shotgun certificate and bought two guns after obtaining the certificate
  • D broke into V’s car after V had dropped off his daughter for school
  • V was made to read a letter while D pointed a loaded gun towards him
  • D told V ‘You are not going to like this’, after which V pushed the gun away from him and threw it away through the window
  • V escaped and took the gun with him; D ran away with V’s car and was later arrested

Issues in R v Jones [1990] 1 WLR 1057

  • V was unclear as to whether D had had his finger on the trigger and D declined to comment on this
  • The question to be discussed was whether D’s actions were merely preparatory

Held by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)

  • Appeal against conviction dismissed – the statute’s meaning (been ‘more than merely preparatory’) did not mean ‘last act within his power’
  • Court awarded a reduced sentence of eight years (down from 12 years)

Lord Justice Taylor

Taylor LJ, in summarising the judgement, pointed out in paragraph D of p.1057 that the correct approach towards this case was to adhere to the statutory phrasing disregard the application of a previous test derived from case law

  • The judges rejected a test previously used in the case of Reg v Eagleton, giving priority to the original statutory footing
  • ‘We respectfully adopt those words. We do not accept Mr. Farrer’s A contention that section 1(1) of the Act of 1981 in effect embodies the “last act” test derived from Reg. v. Eagleton. Had Parliament intended to adopt that test, a quite different form of words could and would have been used.’ [p.1062 at paragraph A]
  • The judges were convinced D’s actions were not merely preparatory
  • ‘But, in our judgment, once he had got into the car, taken out the loaded gun and pointed it at the victim with the intention of killing him, there was sufficient evidence for the consideration of the jury on the charge of attempted murder.’ [p.1062 at paragraph H]