Brief of R v Roberts

Brief of R v Roberts by Legum

R v. Roberts (1971) 56 Cr App R 95

Material Facts:

The defendant offered the victim a ride in his car after a party. He began making sexual advances towards her. She objected to his advances, yet he persisted and said he would beat her if she refused. She subsequently opened the door and jumped out. She consequently sustained serious bodily injuries. The defendant was charged with sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He was convicted of the offence of actual bodily harm, and he appealed against his conviction on the grounds that he did not foresee the possibility of her getting out of the moving car, and her acts thereby constituted a novus actus interveniens.


Whether or not it was of any relevance that the appellant himself did not foresee the possibility of the victim jumping out of the moving car, in which case her act would constitute a novus actus interveniens.

Holding and Ratio:

The Court of Appeal held that the burden of the prosecution was to simply show that the acts of the victim were reasonably foreseeable in light of the defendant's acts. In assessing reasonable foreseeability, it was not what the defendant himself thought was reasonably foreseeable.

Once the victim’s acts were reasonably foreseeable, they did not act as a novus actus interveniens to break the chain of causation.