Recent Cases

O’Dea v Western Australia [2022] HCA 24 (10 August 2022) (Kiefel CJ, Gageler, Gordon, Edelman and Steward JJ)


Criminal law – Parties to offence – Principal offenders – Where appellant and another charged jointly with offence of unlawfully doing grievous bodily harm with intent under s 294(1)(a) of Criminal Code (WA) – Where prosecution relied on s 7(a) of Criminal Code, which deems “[e]very person who actually does the act … which constitutes the offence” to be guilty of offence – Where uncertainty as to which act or acts of appellant or co-accused, or combination of their acts, caused grievous bodily harm – Where trial judge relevantly directed jury they could convict appellant under s 7(a) if satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that appellant and co-accused were “acting in concert, each of them doing one or more of the acts which caused” grievous bodily harm and that “[t]he relevant accused’s acts were unlawful” – Whether s 7(a) permits acts of person to be attributed to another – Whether jury direction occasioned miscarriage of justice.

Words and phrases – “acting in concert”, “actually does the act”, “attribution”, “criminal responsibility”, “deemed to have taken part in committing the offence”, “parties to offence”, “principal in the first degree”, “principal offender”, “unlawful common purpose”.