R v Clegg [1995] 1 AC 482

Key point

  • Where a person used a greater degree of force in self-defence than was necessary in the circumstances he was guilty of murder


  • D, a soldier stationed at a checkpoint in Northern Ireland, fired 4 shots at stolen car approaching at speed
  • The 4th shot killed a passenger
  • D was charged with murder, D argued that he fired in self-defence

Held (House of Lords)

  • Appeal dismissed
  • The 4th shot was found not to be in self defence since the car had already passed and the use of force was held to be grossly disproportionate
  • There was no distinction to be drawn between the use of excessive force in self-defence and the use of excessive force in the prevention of crime or in arresting an offender