R v Hardie [1985] 1 WLR 64

Criminal - Arson - Unintentional intoxication by prescription drugs - relevance of drug consumption on mens rea


Mr Hardie was charged with arson under ss 1(2) and (3) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 (CDA), for allegedly intending to damage a woman’s property by being reckless. Mr Hardie consumed a large amount of valium to calm himself after the lady he was living with asked him to leave their flat. He returned in an intoxicated state and set fire to the wardrobe in his bedroom. He appealed the conviction.


Whether the defence of involuntary intoxication was available to Hardie, and taken into account when considering Hardie’s state of mind in respect of all aspects of mens rea. Whether Hardie foresaw the immediate result of his actions.


It was held that Hardie’s state of mind had to be considered under s 1(2) of the CDA. Only when he performed the relevant act (i.e. burning the wardrobe) could the requirements of an intention to destroy and or recklessness be established. Any incapacity resulting from the taking of Valium should have been considered and put to the jury as its effects were relevant. It was held that the self-administration of a drug does not necessarily give rise to the assumption that it could not negatively affect the mens rea in the same way illegal drugs or alcohol could. The conviction was quashed on the basis that by taking the drug, Hardie could not have appreciated the risks to property and persons from his actions. It could not reasonably be determined that taking Valium was reckless either.