R v Jones [1990] 1 WLR 1057

Key point

  • s1(1) Criminal Attempts Act 1981 should be given its natural meaning


  • D prepared to murder V by sawing off the end of a shotgun
  • D climbed into back of V’s car but could not fire as safety was not released, V threw the gun out of window
  • D was charged with attempted murder
  • D’s counsel argued that the ‘last act’ test from R v Eagleton (1854) 5 Dears C.C. 515 should apply to s1(1) Criminal Attempts Act 1981, under which D must have reached a point of no return to be charged with attempt

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Appeal dismissed – the ‘last act’ test should not be applied

Taylor LJ

Interpretation of s1(1) 1981 Act

  • ‘[T]he correct approach is to look first at the natural meaning of the statutory words, not to turn back to earlier case law and seek to fit some previous test to the words of the section’
  • Gullefer was followed – had Parliament intended that the ‘last act’ test be applied to s1(1), a very different forms of words would have been used

On what is more than mere preparation

  • D’s actions in obtaining the gun, in shortening it, in loading it, in putting on his disguise and going to the ambush point could only be regarded as preparatory acts.
  • But once D had got into the car, taken out the loaded gun and pointed it at V with the intention of killing him, there was sufficient evidence for the consideration of the jury on the charge of attempted murder
Inchoate Liability Cases
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