The appellant held a grudge against Viola Foreshaw. He went to her house in the middle of the night poured paraffin through her letter box and set light to it. A child died in the fire. The trial was held before the judgment was delivered in Moloney. The judge directed the jury as follows:
“If when the accused performed the act of setting fire to the house, he knew that it was highly probable that the act would result in serious bodily injury to somebody inside the house, even though he did not desire it – desire to bring that result about – he is guilty or murder.”
The jury convicted of murder and the defendant appealed on the grounds of a mis-direction.
Held: There was a clear misdirection. The Court of Appeal reviewed the cases of Moloney and Hancock & Shankland and formulated a new direction from the two decisions.
Lord Lane CJ:
“the jury should be directed that they are not entitled to infer the necessary intention, unless they feel sure that death or serious bodily harm was a virtual certainty (barring some unforeseen intervention) as a result of the defendant’s actions and that the defendant appreciated that such was the case.”