R v. Latimer (1886) 17 QBD 359
The defendant got into a fight with someone in the pub. He, intending to hit the person he was fighting with, removed his belt and struck. However, the defendant missed his strike and instead hit a woman standing next to his intended victim. He caused severe injuries to the woman and is being prosecuted for unlawful and malicious wounding.
Whether the defendant could be prosecuted for wounding the woman even though he had no actual intention to injure her and only accidentally did so
The defendant can be prosecuted for wounding the woman under the doctrine of transferred malice.
The defendant had the intention of causing harm to the person he was fighting with. Although he had no intention to cause harm to his eventual victim, the intention he had to cause harm to the man would be transferred to his act of causing harm to the victim, thereby resulting in the concurrence of a mens rea and an actus reus.
Per Lord Coleridge C.J at p. 361,
It is common knowledge that a man who has an unlawful and malicious intent against another, and, in attempting to carry it out, injures a third person, is guilty of what the law deems malice against the person injured, because the offender is doing an unlawful act, and has that which the judges call general malice, and that is enough.