JJC v Eisenhower [1984] QB 331

Whether internal blood vessel damage suffices for a finding of wounding under s. 18.


The defendant, a minor, shot multiple rounds from an air gun at a group of people, of which one airgun pellet hit the victim, also a minor, in the face, which ruptured internal blood vessel’s near the victim’s eye, causing bruising and swelling.


Did the defendant’s actions amount to a wounding under s. 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act.


The Court found the defendant not guilty of wounding, determining that a charge under s. 18 required that there be a break in ‘the continuity of the skin’, that is the whole skin and not merely a scratch to the outer layer of the skin. Goff LJ, who delivered the leading judgment, stated that precedent was relatively clear on the matter, and further that:

‘It is not enough that there has been a rupturing of a blood vessel or vessels internally for there to be a wound under the statute because it is impossible for a court to conclude from that evidence alone that there has been a break in the continuity of the whole skin’ ([341]).

Subsequently, the appeal was upheld and the charge against the defendant lessened. This rule continues to be strictly applied in determining whether an injury is best described as actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm or wounding under s. 18. Thus, in cases where the skins remains intact, ABH or GBH are the only options for a charge.

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