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FACTS

The accused let a friend, whom he knew was wanted on two counts of murder, hide out in his apartment.  The cops raided the apartment and found the wanted man. They asked Duong what the wanted man had told him and Duong answered that he knew his friend was in “trouble” but didn’t want to know more because he knew he’d be in trouble for helping his friend hide.  Duong was charged and convicted of being an accessory to a murder after the fact.

ISSUE

Does the accused need to have the means to make an inquiry in order for the doctrine of wilful blindness to apply?

HELD

No. Appeal dismissed.

RATIO

The trial judge was reasonable in inferring from the appellant’s statements a state of mind encompassing the suspicion that his friend was in trouble for being a party to murder.

NOTES

The fact that Duong may have contemplated other possible connections between his friend and the murders afforded no bar to finding that he was wilfully blind to his friend’s being a party to a murder.

The approach of English Courts is different.

R. v. Parker [1977] 2 All E.R. 37 (C.A.C.D.)

FACTS

Parker went through a series of mishaps by sleeping on a train and missing his stop. In a great temper trying to call a cab, he started smashing the dialling part of a payphone with the receiver.  He was convicted of criminal damage.

ISSUE

Did the trial judge err in his defining “reckless” for the jury?

HELD

No. Appeal dismissed.

RATIO

Parker was “reckless” in “closing his mind” to the obvious fact that his act can cause damage but nevertheless continuing to perform it.

NOTES

Unlike in Canadian Courts, the English seem to use an exclusively objective test for recklessness and conflating the latter with wilful blindness.

R. v. Caldwell [1981] 1 All E.R. 961 (H.L.)

FACTS

Caldwell did work on a hotel but had grievances against the owner.  So he got really drunk one night and set fire to the hotel, in which some 10 guests were living at the time.  Caldwell pled that he was so drunk that the possibility of there being people in the hotel never crossed his mind.  In convicting him of arson, the trial judge said to the jury that in deciding whether Caldwell was reckless as to the lives of the residents, his failing to give any thought to the risk because he was so drunk was irrelevant.  The House of Lords agreed with this.

ISSUE

What is the meaning of the term reckless?

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