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R v Chan Fook [1994] 1 WLR 689 Court of Appeal

A French student was lodging at the house of Mrs Fox who was engaged to the appellant. Mrs Fox's engagement ring went missing and the she accused the student of stealing it. The appellant interrogated the student during which he struck him several times. He then locked him in an upstairs room and threatened him with further violence if the ring was not returned. The student attempted to escape by roping the curtains and sheets together and tying them around the curtain pole. The curtain pole broke and the student fell to the ground and suffered a fractured wrist and a dislocated hip. The appellant was charged with the offence of an assault occasioning actual bodily harm under S.47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. The prosecution did not frame the case in relation to the physical injuries sustained from him jumping out of the windows (presumably assuming his actions may amount to a novus actus interveniens). The prosecution based their case on the mental state of the victim and the fear and panic he suffered. No medical evidenced was produced to support a finding of psychiatric injury.


Conviction was quashed. To amount to actual bodily harm, the injury need not be permanent but should not be so trivial as to be wholly insignificant. Feelings of fear and panic are emotions rather than an injury and without medical evidence to support recognised psychiatric condition a conviction for ABH could not stand.
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