Issue of self-defence

The applied issue of self-defence is whether actus rea was present. The case of Munir Hussain highlights the issue of when self-defence goes beyond the remit of law and the act becomes grievous bodily harm (GBH). This peace will examine the law of self-defence, and apply it to the case of Munir Hussain. The civil law of tort and public opinion are also relevant and will be given consideration. The need for reform will become clear, and be addressed.

On returning Home Munir Hussain and his family were taken captive by three masked men wielding Knifes. His wife and children were bound and forced to crawl from room to room under the threat of death for there invaders amusement while Munir was beaten. However, he broke free, armed himself with a cricket bat and drove away the intruders. He chased, caught one of the intruders, Walid Salem and assaulted him with the bat leaving him brain-damaged.

S.3 of the, Criminal Law Act {1967}, states, a person can use reasonable force, such as preventing a crime, making a lawful arrest. In these circumstances, the law allows what would have been a crime to become a justifiable act. The juncture, where Munir broke free and engaged the assailants is regarded in law as, using reasonable force to prevent a crime, that been false imprisonment. After the three men had fled the house, Munir could claim, he gives chase for some 100 yards to make a lawful arrest. However, Munir, beating Walid round the head, in a sustained attack with force such that the bat broke does not constitute reasonable force to make a lawful arrest. A strike to the legs using the bat to incapacitate, until the Police attended, would be considered justifiable as Walid was armed with a knife. Munir can not claim reasonable force to make lawful arrest as a defence, his attack on Walid was sustained and vicious.

The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 S.76, provides a gloss to the common law principles of self-defence, notably from the leading case, Palmer v R {1971}. Lord Morris directed the jury to look at particular facts, which formed these principles and set president. The principles, person being attacked need not weigh up the measure of force used in defence. The heat of the moment, defendant had honestly done what he saw fit. Finally, a jury will only fail the defence of self-defence, if the prosecution show beyond reasonable doubt that the defendants actions where not self-defence. Essentially, the juncture where Munir could use this defence had debilitated. The three assailants had fled, there was no violent actions been tendered towards him, thus eliminating the principles. The chase was a premeditated action leading to the assault. The prosecution can easily show that Munir was not acting in self-defence. The Police where left with no choice but to charge him, he had turned aggressor.

The Offence Against a Person Act 1861 S.20, Inflicting bodily injury, with or without weapon. Essentially, Munir, had become the aggressor, furthermore, the mind-set of Munir was that of revenge, this is clear in the action of the chase, proving mens ria. The assault itself was sustained, targeting Walid's head, with a weapon. This action, never denied, unequivocally shows actus reus. Munir was clearly acting out of revenge; the conviction of GBH was justified.

Consideration must now be given to the fact, that, provocation can not be a defence for GBH. Although it can in murder. S.3, Homicide Act 1957, provoked to lose his self-control, enough to make a reasonable man do as he did. In this defence the law is concerned with the impact of the actions of the victim, on the defendants mind. Critically, Munir had lost self-control. He was of previous outstanding character, who had been chairman of the Wycombe Race Relations Council. His outburst was as a result of the heinous actions of three men intent on harm. Imagine if the defence of provocation could be applied to the case of Munir Hussain. This could have seen him completely exonerated or facing a lesser charge.

Munir's conviction opens the door for Walid to claim compensation. Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995 S.1, arrangements for the payment of compensation to, persons who, sustained criminal injuries. Allegedly, Walid is wheelchair bound and possibly needs certain elements of care. Under present legislation Walid can claim for any damages, loss of earning and equipment or care he my need.

The law offers no defence to Munir Hussain. Mitigation of extreme provocation could only cut the sentence, as it appeared to do. Many legal professionals confirmed that an assault of this severity would carry seven years imprisonment. However, the public out cry at Munir's sentence of thirty months imprisonment was immense. Apparent, are the feelings that most men, in the same situation, would act equal. However, the laws purpose is to keep order and represent the morals of the population at large. It would seem that the law is out of step with the sentiment of the people.

The case of Hemstock v R {2004} the farmer, who was acquitted, shot an intruder on his land in the belly, seriously injuring him with an unlicensed firearm, brings into prominence the lack of lucidity within the this area of law. The introduction of an “extreme provocation test” could possibly bring some clarity and keep the integrity of the judiciary intact. With regards to criminal injury's claims, the current legislation should be brought into line with the Criminal Injury's Compensation Authority, who can refuse to award money, because of behaviour before an incident.

To close, given the law, the Police where left with no option but to charge Munir Hussain. His actions clearly failed the test of Lord Morris and were outside the limits set in the Criminal Justice Act 1967. However, public opinion was Cleary sided with Munir. The case of Hemstock v R clearly shows a lack of clarity and The Criminal Injury's compensation Act makes a mockery of the real victim. In my opinion the reform discussed is urgently needed.