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Citation: Reynhoudt (1962) 107 CLR 381

This information can be found in the Textbook: Brown et al, Criminal Laws: Materials and Commentary on Criminal Law and Process in New South Wales, (5th edition, Federation Press, 2011), pp. 673-4.


Background facts

  • The defendant was charged with assaulting a police officer during the execution of their duty.

Legal issues


Menzies J:

  • The use of the word 'willful' in the legislation (it says 'willfully obstruct') limits the class of people who can be charged with this offence. This limitation would be useless if there was a specific intent requirement to obstruct a policeman (since such intent would obviously mean the action was willful).
  • There nothing really in the legislation which implies a specific intent requirement. The issue should be seen as one of strict liability.
  • The purpose of the legislation is to give extra protection to police officers in the discharge of their dangerous duties by imposing an additional penalty upon persons assaulting them who cannot reasonably excuse their conduct by proving honest mistake on reasonable grounds.

Dixon J (DISSENT):

  • The 'intent' must be the intent to do the whole act, ie, the intent to assault a police officer. This means that the person must have known that the person was a police officer.


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