R v Bollom [2003]

R v Bollom [2003] EWCA Crim 2846 revolved around the consideration of the victim's characteristics, including age, in determining whether the harm caused amounted to actual bodily harm.

The factual background of the case involved the defendant dropping his partner's baby during a night of drinking, resulting in bruising on the baby's leg. The baby had sustained additional injuries, but the evidence was unclear regarding how these injuries occurred. The defendant was initially convicted under Section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 for intentionally causing grievous bodily harm (GBH).

Upon appeal, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, and the conviction was substituted for assault occasioning actual bodily harm under Section 47. In delivering the judgment, Fulford J emphasised that the assessment of harm should be made based on the impact on the specific individual, taking into account their characteristics. The judgment clarified that injuries need not necessarily be life-threatening, dangerous, or permanent to constitute GBH. Instead, injuries should be viewed collectively to determine their seriousness. Additionally, injuries should be caused by one continuous course of conduct constituting a continuous assault.

The court acknowledged that the victim's age had to be considered when assessing the injuries. However, the judge failed to direct the jury to determine the defendant's responsibility in inflicting the injuries, creating uncertainty. Consequently, the court concluded that the conviction was unsafe, leading to the successful appeal.

This case illustrates the importance of a comprehensive assessment of harm tailored to the individual circumstances, especially when considering the characteristics of the victim.
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