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R v Clarkson (David) 1971

R v Clarkson (David) [1971] 55 Cr App Rep 445 is an English criminal case that dealt with aiding and abetting, particularly the requirement of active encouragement for liability to be established.


The defendant, David Clarkson, was implicated in a disturbing incident where a woman was subjected to three instances of rape. However, crucially, there was no evidence to suggest that Clarkson actively encouraged or participated in the commission of the crime.


The court deliberated on the essence of aiding and abetting, emphasising that for this charge to be substantiated, there must be tangible proof of active encouragement of the criminal act. In Clarkson's case, the absence of evidence implicating him in actively promoting or supporting the rape meant that the criteria for aiding and abetting were not met.


Furthermore, the court highlighted that English law does not recognise offences of omission unless there is a concurrent duty of care. In this context, since Clarkson's actions were characterised by passive observation without any evidence of active encouragement, they did not constitute an indictable offence.


As a result, David Clarkson's appeal proved successful, with the court determining that the evidence did not support a charge of aiding and abetting in the absence of active encouragement, and there being no offence of omission applicable to the circumstances.


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