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R v Calhaem [1985]

R v Calhaem [1985] QB 808 explored the concept of guilt as an accessory and the extent of liability for counselling without a direct causal link between the counselling and the principal offence.

Calhaem, the defendant, counselling an individual, X, to commit murder against the victim. Despite X ultimately deciding not to carry out the murder, he later went on a violent rampage, resulting in the unintended killing of the victim.

Calhaem found herself convicted of murder under Section 8 of the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861. The appeal centred on the argument that there was no clear causal connection between Calhaem's counselling and the eventual commission of the murder.

The Court of Appeal, in dismissing the appeal, interpreted the term "counsel" in its ordinary sense, encompassing actions such as advising or soliciting. Crucially, under the 1861 Act, there was no inherent requirement for a direct causal link between the act of counselling and the subsequent offence.

Parker LJ clarified that the accused could be deemed guilty if the principal offence occurred while the individual who was counselled acted within the scope of their authority, even if the outcome occurred in an accidental or unintended manner.

This decision reinforced the broader application of accessory liability under the 1861 Act, emphasising that the term 'counsel' did not necessarily imply a strict requirement of a causal connection between counselling and the commission of the offence.

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