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Initially,
intention must be one of the main principles in the mens rea of an offence. It
indicates the most potent culpability and the greatest blameworthiness. The
term intention is satisfied with two main components being direct and oblique
intention.  There have been difficulties
in courts for defining exactly the meaning of intention; especially in regards
to murder it is particularly difficult. The most ordinary intention caused is
known as direct intention. Direct intention is where the defendant begins to
commit an offence that indeed occurs as well as generally desiring it. The
defendant usually fulfills his desire that is virtually the same as his
purpose. As well the defendant directly intends both the result element and the
circumstance element. Lord Hailsham defined this explanation of intention in Hyam v Dpp,1
where he states that intention refers to ‘the means as well as the end’.
Meaning when circumstances appear and intention is necessary to
allocate responsibility, the evidence prohibits the result because it was not
the purpose and specifically does not desire it. In Hyam the appellant was in a relationship with Mr. Jones, which then
he separated from her and got into another relationship where he was close to
getting married. Later, the appellant had lit a newspaper on fire and placed it
through the letterbox of his house, causing a house fire. The defendant’s
intention was to frighten the victim but in fact had caused the death of the
victim’s children. The House of Lords upheld a conviction and referred to the
second component of intention, oblique intention. Oblique intention is when the
mental state of the defendant is categorized as an intention for a consequence,
which was not their purpose, and that the non-purposed deemed to be intended. The
direction of the jury and definition of oblique intention was changed in Dpp v Smith.2
A policeman was trying to stop a robbery and jumped on the front of the defendant’s
car, while on the car the defendant drove off and while trying to get him off
the car, he fell onto the path of an oncoming car. The defendant was guilty of
murder and the jury directed that a reasonable man would have contemplated the
consequences that were likely to happen to the officer. The courts considered
S.8 Proof of Criminal Intent on the basis that you cannot say someone intended
something because of natural consequences; you can only infer it by looking at
evidence.3
It was accepted that foresight of consequences being highly probable was enough
to establish intent. Accordingly, the courts wiped away Smith with S.8 and defined oblique intention with the reference,
foresight of a ‘high probability’ in order to understand the state of mind of
the defendant and whether she realized that she was creating a reasonably high
risk of death. Difficulty then arose with the courts trying to interpret
whether this related to recklessness or intention; due to the problem being similar
to foreseeing a risk and running it unjustifiably. However it was mentioned
that a risk can be 22% unjustifiably but over 50% would be probable. In
conclusion, you intended it if you foresaw the consequences as probable or
highly probable.  

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