People (Attorney General) v Keating

Judgment Date01 January 1954
Date01 January 1954
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
The People (Attorney General)

Self-defence - Defence of others - Death resulting from blow struck in defence of brother of accused - Scope of principle of self-defence - Defence of others as defence to charge of manslaughter.

The applicant was convicted in the Circuit Court on a charge of manslaughter. The deceased, E. B., had engaged in a fight with P. K., a brother of the applicant, and the accused, coming to his brother's defence, struck E. B. a blow from behind. E. B. fell to the ground and received an injury to his head which proved fatal. The trial Judge in the course of his charge to the jury described the blow struck by the applicant as an assault and informed the jury that the assault was an unlawful act. He told the jury that the defence of his brother would have justified the accused's act if the blow in question had been struck in defending his brother from a felonious attack, but that the principle of self-defence did not extend to cases of misdemeanours of any kind and that an assault was a misdemeanour. On an application for leave to appeal from the said conviction it was held by the Court of Criminal Appeal 1, That the trial Judge's description of the blow as "an assault" and "an unlawful act" amounted to a misdirection in as much as it might have given the jury the impression that they had no question of fact to decide as to the lawfulness or otherwise of the use of force by the applicant. 2...

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