R v Jackson [1985] Crim LR 442

Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice – Burglary – Intent for Conspiracy to Succeed


Four members of a gang agreed to shoot a friend of theirs in the leg.  He was on trial for burglary and it was hoped by the gang members that being shot in the leg would help his mitigation by ensuring the judge had some sympathy for him.  After this plan was uncovered the four were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  They were convicted and appealed arguing that they had not conspired to pervert the course of justice because the defendant may in any event have been acquitted and that their actions did not affect the guilt worthiness of the defendant.


Whether there was a conspiracy committed considering that the plan might not work.  Whether conspiracy required the resulting criminal offence to be inevitable or not.  Whether an offence would be committed if the defendants’ plan worked as intended.


The defendants’ appeals were dismissed.  The Court of Appeal held that the important factor was whether an offence would have been committed if the defendants’ plan had worked as intended.  In this case, it would have constituted a criminal offence because the defendant would have received a lesser sentence than he should have received.  Conspiracy did not require the result of the defendants’ plan to be inevitably successful; indeed the conspirators might consider it extremely unlikely that their plan would succeed, but they could still be held to have committed an offence.