R v Savage and R v Parmenter [1991]

R v Savage; R v Parmenter [1991] UKHL 15 were conjoined criminal appeals, where the House of Lords addressed the mens rea required under Sections 20 and 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA). The cases involved two separate appeals, one concerning intentional harm caused by throwing beer (Savage) and the other related to injuries inflicted on a baby during rough handling (Parmenter).

Savage's Appeal
Savage, convicted under Section 47 OAPA (assault occasioning bodily harm) for intentionally throwing beer at her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend in a bar, appealed, arguing that the section required intention or foresight of some physical harm. The House of Lords dismissed Savage's appeal, affirming that the mens rea for Section 47 was the same as the mens rea for assault. There was no additional requirement of foreseeing physical harm under Section 47; the only mens rea required was that for assault, which did not necessitate intention or foresight of physical harm.

Parmenter's Appeal
Parmenter, convicted under Section 20 OAPA (inflicting bodily injury, with or without weapon) for causing injuries to his baby, argued that he did not realise his actions would cause harm. The House of Lords held that the mens rea under Section 20 involved an intention or recklessness as to whether some physical harm would be inflicted. The defendant must have subjectively intended or foreseen some physical harm, with the actual or subjective foresight of harm being crucial (akin to Cunningham recklessness). Importantly, the harm intended or foreseen could be of a minor character and need not be wounding or grievous bodily harm.

The House of Lords clarified that for offences under Section 20 OAPA, the defendant must have subjectively intended or foreseen some physical harm. This harm could be of a minor nature and did not necessarily have to be grievous. For Section 47 OAPA, the mens rea required was the same as that for assault, without the need for intention or foresight of physical harm. The ruling refined the mental element necessary for these offences, providing important distinctions between Sections 20 and 47.
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