In the Mail this week, a story about a man who kicked his lady in the stomach in a row about duvet-hogging. Initially he denied intent, "saying he put his leg up as she walked towards him."
(It was in a Viennese hotel some years ago that we first came across a double bed with two single duvets; I hadn't realised it was a crime prevention measure.)
The principle of criminal intent was established by the Elizabethan jurist Edward Coke as one of the two elements necessary to prove guilt.
Which brings me to an old story about a case supposedly heard in Cardiff Crown Court. A man had stabbed someone to death in a pub, and his defence was that he had held out the knife in a warning but self-protective gesture, and the other fellow had walked into it.
The judge leaned forward and asked, "What would you have done if he hadn't walked forward?"
The defendant replied "I'd have done that, wouldn't I?", miming a powerful jab with the blade.
One imagines the Rumpole-like scene in the cells below afterwards, the barrister saying, "What you have to understand, Taff, and you'll have plenty of time to muse on this, is..."
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