R v Jones [1987] Crim LR 123

Criminal – Assault - Grievous Bodily Harm – Injury Caused by “Rough and Undisciplined Play”


There were six appellants to the appeal a conviction under s 20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. All had pleaded guilty to at least two counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm, arising from an incident in the playground. The two complainants were thrown into the air and landed on the ground, causing them serious injuries. The judge declined to give a direction to the jury as to whether the boys were participated in rough horseplay with intent to injure.


The issue was whether the complainants had consented to ‘rough and undisciplined horseplay’ and whether there had been intent to cause serious injury. Section 20 requires an intention or reckless on the part of the defendant/appellant in their actions, which was found not to exist.


McCowan J held that consent to engage in horseplay was a defence where there had been no intention to seriously injure. It was further opined that if the jury had been given the opportunity to consider the defence of consent, in that the appellants had only been participating in “rough and undisciplined play”, and where there was no intention to cause harm or serious injury, then they would have likely rejected the conviction. Lord Chief Justice was found to have erred in failing to refer to the actions of the appellants as “rough and undisciplined play” and removing the defence of consent which ultimately impacted the outcome of the case. The conviction was quashed and the appeal was allowed.