R v Gnango [2011]

In R v Gnango [2011] UKSC 59, also known as R v Armel Gnango, is a Supreme Court case that dealt with the complex issue of whether an individual could be deemed an accessory to a crime when they were the intended victim. This legal inquiry brought the doctrine of transferred malice to the forefront of the court's considerations.

The facts of the case revolved around Gnango, the defendant, who found himself engaged in a gunfight with another individual named X. Tragically, during this exchange, X accidentally shot and killed a passer-by. The legal charge against Gnango was aiding and abetting the murder of the innocent passer-by.

In delivering the judgment, the Supreme Court, led by Lord Phillips and Lord Judge, made several critical determinations. Firstly, the court interpreted the Tyrrell decision as being grounded in an implied term within the statutory offence, relying on the perceived intention of Parliament.

The court unequivocally stated that there was no inherent common law prohibition preventing an individual from being found guilty of aiding and abetting a crime in which they were the intended victim. The judge's direction to the jury emphasised the necessity of considering whether Gnango and X had a common plan or agreement to shoot at each other, providing a basis for the defendant's guilt if such an agreement was found.

The court's decision rested on a combination of common law principles related to aiding and abetting and the doctrine of transferred malice. Importantly, the demands of justice were cited as a pivotal factor, particularly in light of the fortuitous nature of determining which of the two individuals fired the fatal shot.

In a separate view expressed by Lord Brown and Lord Clarke, they opined that Gnango should be regarded as a principal rather than an accessory to murder. This decision sparked debate due to the application of transferred malice, even when the defendant did not intend to be shot by X.

In conclusion, this case is notable for its exploration of the intricate legal concepts surrounding transferred malice, aiding and abetting, and the culpability of an intended victim in a criminal act. The court's emphasis on the demands of justice and the specific circumstances of the gunfight added complexity to the application of these legal principles.
Back to blog
UOL Case Bank

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.