DPP NI v Maxwell [1978] 1 W.L.R. 1350, [1978] 3 All ER 1140

Key point

  • Knowledge of the type or range of possible offences that may be committed by the principal, but not the specific offence, is sufficient


  • D was a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force, which conducted terror attacks in Northern Ireland
  • D led other members of the UVF to an inn in which they planted a bomb
  • He was later convicted as an accessory
  • D appealed on the basis that was only told to drive and was not informed of the bombing to be committed

Held (House of Lords)

  • Appeal dismissed

Lord Lowry

  • Knowledge of the actual principal offence is not required for a person to be convicted of aiding and abetting
  • It was sufficient if the person giving aid knew the type of offence to be committed or the essential matters constituting the offence
  • D, being a member of an organisation that carried out armed attacks on persons or property, knew when he acted as a guide that he was taking part in an attack