Written Jury Directions and Contributing to the Force of Numbers: R v N [2019] EWCA Crim 2280

AuthorBeatrice Krebs
Published date01 April 2020
Date01 April 2020
Subject MatterCase Notes
Case Note
Written Jury Directions
and Contributing to the
Force of Numbers
RvN[2019] EWCA Crim 2280
Joint enterprise, misdirection, written directions, wounding with intent
The appellant, a minor, appealed against his conviction for wounding with intent contrary to s 18 of the
Offences against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861. The incident concerned an assault on two boys (referred
to as T and A) that occurred on the evening of 13 February 2018. T and A were walking along a road in
Newham when a car pulled up beside them. Two masked males got out of the car, while the driver stayed
inside. The boys were uncertain whether there were more people in the car. The two males stabbed T and
A repeatedly before getting back into the car. T and A were seriously injured and required emergency
live-saving hospital treatment.
It was the prosecution case that the appellant was a member of the ‘Anyone Can Go’ gang and that on
the evening in question he had participated in a ‘ride-out’ whereby gang members visited a rival area
with a view to attacking opponents. The prosecution alleged that the appellant was either one of the two
attackers or that he was in the car to encourage or assist the attackers if the need arose. Because the
attackers had masked their faces, neither victim had recognised their assailants. However, T and A were
able to describe their attackers by height and skin colour. Other evidence relied on by the prosecution
included a car key, jacket, holdall, large knife and gold mask obtained from the appellant’s bedroom, as
well as CCTV and cell site evidence showing the car driving to and from the crime scene and the
movement of phone numbers attributable to the appellant and his co-accused. The jury were also shown
a drill video from the appellant’s phone which featured the appellant and included lyrics which appeared
to describe him boasting about the attack on T and A.
The appellant accepted at trial that he had been present in the car, but he denied participating in the
attack or having had any knowledge of a plan to attack anyone in the area. He had done nothing to assist
or encourage the attackers. ‘Anyone Can Go’ was not a gang but a mere association of friends. While he
had appeared in the drill video, he had not written the lyrics and had not been referring to the attack in the
song. He accepted that the jacket and holdall were his, but the knife and mask belonged to his brother.
The trial judge gave oral instructions only. These included a direction that the appellant ‘would be
guilty if he deliberately attended with a view to helping or encouraging the people who actually stabbed
the two to do so, so he is there as part and parcel of this ride-out’ (emphasis added). He further directed
the jury that
the prosecution say ( ...) the defendant is guilty either because he joined in the attack on both of the two and
must therefore have either intentionally stabbed or injured either of the two persons or because he deliberately
helped or encouraged either or both of the others to do so.
The jury were also directed that ‘as a matter of law, mere presence at the scene of a crime is not enough
to make a defendant guilty of the crime, but if a defendant is there and intends by his presence to help or
The Journal of Criminal Law
2020, Vol. 84(2) 172–175
ªThe Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0022018320915046

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