Blandford & District U3A Blandford Forum, Dorset webmaster@blandfordu3a.co.uk

Charity No: 1092984

Criminal Law


The recently launched criminal law group currently has seven members who contribute their considerable life experience and professional insights to make the sessions lively, friendly and hopefully intellectually stimulating – though space around the table is becoming squeezed! We have discussed the basic principles of criminal law, the ‘guilty act’ (Actus Reus) which must be linked to the ‘guilty mind’ (Mens Rea) to create almost all offences. We have studied the Homicide offences and applied the principles as a small ‘jury’ in recent cases. In passing we talked about the relative unreliability of witness identification (recent studies suggest a 55% accuracy rate – compare this to dogs using scent which is accurate over 80% of the time!) and the court’s powers to sentence, including the reasons for early release, which provokes lively discussion!  


Theft, Robbery and Burglary have proved to be more fun to discuss than to experience. The recent Libor trial turned on the definition of dishonesty from the Theft Act (the Ghosh Test); proving how ‘up to date with events we are.


 A recent tragic case led to a discussion of the law on Insanity, which is still defined by the McNaghten Rules developed in the 1840’s. Surprisingly the key Act of Parliament dealing with Offences against the Person also dates from that period.


Finally, we will study the defences available in a criminal court; including Automatism, duress and most controversially Intoxication as well as continuing to attempt to elucidate current cases.

Contact Kevin Banks on 454182