R v Ireland [1998] AC 147

Key points

  • Under sections 20 and 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA 1861), recognisable psychiatric illness falls within the definition of ‘bodily harm’ and harm can be ‘inflicted’ without direct application of force to the victim
  • Assault and can committed by words and gestures alone, even silence, if threatening, can suffice

Facts

  • The appeal was of two conjoined cases where Ds made silent phone calls to women
  • The women suffered psychiatric damage as a result
  • Ds were convicted under sections 20 and 47 of the OAPA 1861

Held (House of Lords)

  • Appeal dismissed – Ds were rightly convicted
  • Under sections 20 and 47 of the OAPA 1861, recognisable psychiatric illness falls within the definition of ‘bodily harm’ and harm can be ‘inflicted’ without direct application of force to the victim
  • Assault and can committed by words and gestures alone
  • Here the silent phone calls causing fear of immediate and unlawful violence and were a form of assault

Lord Steyn

  • “In the context of a criminal case therefore the words ‘cause’ and ‘inflict’ may be taken to be interchangeable”
Optional
Feedback?
Non-fatal Offences Cases
Scroll to top