Maxwell v DPP for Northern Ireland
s8 Accessories and Abettors Act 1861; MR of an accomplice; Johnson v Youden- contemplation of 'essential elements that constitute the offence'
The defendant acted as a guide for other members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (‘UVF’), showing them the way to a particular pub where the principal offenders threw in a pipe bomb. He was charged with aiding and abetting this offence. He argued that he did not know exactly what the principal offenders were going to do, and thus did not have the mens rea necessary to be convicted as an accomplice.
His appeal was dismissed on the basis that the defendant, being a member of an organisation that carried out armed attacks on persons or property, knew when he acted as a guide that he was taking part in an attack either on the pub or on the people therein, and that the weapon or weapons to be used must have been in the car he was guiding.
As Lord Parker said, ‘He knew that a “military” operation was to take place. With his knowledge of the UVF’s activities, he must have known that it would involve the use of a bomb or shooting or the use of incendiary devices. Knowing that, he led them there and so he aided and abetted whichever of these forms the attack took. It took the form of placing a bomb’. Therefore the defendant knew the essential matters constituting the offences, and he had been rightly convicted of being an accomplice to both unlawfully and maliciously doing an act with intent to cause an explosion and being in possession of a bomb.
In Maxwell the House of Lords went further than the Court of Appeal in Bainbridge and found that if a defendant, charged as an accomplice, had a range of offences within his contemplation, he was liable for whichever of those offences the principal chose to commit.