R v Pagett (1983) 76 Cr App R 279, [1983] Crim. L.R. 393

Key point

  • Reasonable acts of self-defence do not break the chain of causation


  • D kidnapped his girlfriend, she was killed when police sniper fired upon D
  • D was convicted for manslaughter


  • Did the police sniper’s shot constitute a novus actus interviens?

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Appeal dismissed; D was rightly convicted for murder
  • The police sniper’s shot did not constitute a novus actus interviens

 Robert Goff LJ

  • ‘There can, we consider, be no doubt that a reasonable act performed for the purpose of self-preservation, being of course itself an act caused by the accused’s own act, does not operate as a novus actus interveniens
  • Self-preservation includes acts of self-defence
  • In this case the police officer fired reasonably in self-defence as he was being fired upon by D