Intention

[3-200] Preliminary Note

The direction to the jury should not refer to the impermissible presumption that every person intends the natural consequences of their acts, requiring the accused to rebut that presumption: R v Stokes and Difford (1990) 51 A Crim R 25.

In R v Stokes and Difford it was said that while a jury may be invited to draw an inference from the accused’s own acts that they were done with the requisite intention, the direction should not cause the jury to think that the test is an objective one.

[3-210] Suggested direction

Intent and intention are very familiar words; in this legal context they carry their ordinary meaning.

Intention may be inferred or deduced from the circumstances in which … [specify, for example, the death occurred], and from the conduct of [the accused] before, at the time of, or after [he/she] did the specific act … [specify, for example, which caused the death of the deceased]. Whatever a person says about [his/her] intention may be looked at for the purpose of finding out what that intention was in fact at the relevant time.

In some cases, a person’s acts may themselves provide the most convincing evidence of [his/her] intention. Where a specific result is the obvious and inevitable consequence of a person’s act, and where [he/she] deliberately does that act, you may readily conclude that [he/she] did that act with the intention of achieving that specific result.

Let me assist you with an illustration of that direction. If one person hits another on the head with a hammer, it is (you may think) both obvious and inevitable that that person will receive a really serious bodily injury as a result. If, therefore, the first person deliberately hits the other on the head with a hammer, it is a simple matter for a jury to conclude that [he/she] did so with the intention of inflicting really serious bodily injury upon that other person. You may think that there is no difficulty at all about coming to such a conclusion. But you must remember that you are considering the intention of [the accused] not what your intention might have been had you been in [his/her] position, nor the intention of any theoretical person.

[3-220] Notes

1. 

When directing a jury on the mental element necessary in a crime of specific intent, the judge should avoid any elaboration or paraphrase of what is meant by intent, and leave it to the jury’s good sense to decide whether the accused acted with the necessary intent, unless the judge is convinced that, on the facts and having regard to the way the case has been presented to the jury in evidence and argument, some further explanation or elaboration is strictly necessary to avoid misunderstanding: R v Moloney [1985] AC 905; R v Hancock [1986] 2 WLR 357; R v Woollin (1999) 1 Cr App Rep 8 (HL).

2. 

Intention is more than mere volition, it connotes an element of purpose, see: Barwick CJ in Iannella v French (1968) 119 CLR 84 at 95.

3. 

Section 72 Evidence Act 1995 provides, inter alia, that the hearsay rule does not apply to evidence of a representation made by a person that was a contemporaneous representation about the person’s intention, knowledge or state of mind.