LAW REPORT v 9 July 1997: Butterfly knife made for causing injury to the person

Director of Public Prosecutions v Hynde; Queen's Bench Divisional Court (Lord Justice Henry and Mr Justice Gage) 3 July 1997

A butterfly knife was a dangerous weapon per se, being made for the purpose of causing injury to the person.

The Divisional Court allowed the Director of Public Prosecution's appeal by way of case stated against the decision of the Stipendiary Magistrate at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court, dismissing a charge that the respondent, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, had with her in an aerodrome in the United Kingdom (Heathrow) an article, namely a butterfly knife, made or adapted for causing injury contrary to section 4(4) of the Aviation Security Act 1982.

Nicholas Coleman (CPS) for the Director of Public Prosecutions; the respondent did not appear and was not represented.

Lord Justice Henry said that knife in the present case fitted the description in the Schedule to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 (SI 1988/2019), to which section 141 of the Act applied. Section 141 provided that any person who manufactured, sold, hired, lent or imported such a weapon was guilty of an offence. It did not, however, cover the offence with which the respondent had been charged, simple possession of "certain dangerous articles" under section 4 of the Aviation Security Act 1982. The articles to which that section applied included those "made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person . . . or intended . . . for such use".

The issue was whether the knife was made for causing injury to the person.

The Crown had sought to prove that simply by producing the knife and referring the magistrate to section 141 of the 1988 Act and the statutory instrument made thereunder. They had submitted that as section 141 forbade, inter alia, the selling or hiring or lending of butterfly knives, it was appropriate to infer that a butterfly knife was a dangerous article as defined in section 4 of the Aviation Security Act 1982.

The magistrate was not persuaded, and had posed the following question for the court:

Whether, on the facts found, I was correct in holding, as a point of law, that evidence or further evidence was required to establish that a butterfly knife was an article made or

adapted for use for causing injury to

or incapacitating a person?

The starting point for the legal analysis was R v Williamson (1978) 67 Cr App R 35, in which Lord Lane CJ had emphasised the three categories of dangerous or offensive weapons wrapped up in the statutory language, and that it was a matter of fact for the jury whether the weapon fell into any and if so which of those categories.

The similarity between a flick knife and a butterfly knife was clear from Gibson v Wales (1983) 76 Cr App R 60. The conclusion in that case, which mutatis mutandis could be extended to butterfly knives, was that a flick knife was a dangerous weapon per se.

That case was considered in R v Simpson (1983) 78 Cr App R 114, in which the Court of Appeal found that such weapons were

plainly designed . . . to be concealed conveniently in the hand or in the pocket and there concealed to be brought into use with the minimum delay to the assailant and the minimum of warning to the victim . . . By their very design in this way they betray the purpose for which they were made

and that the conclusion that a flick knife was necessarily made for use for causing injury to the person was matter of which judicial notice could be taken.

Just as the courts had taken judicial notice of the fact that flick knives were offensive weapons, butterfly knives should also be so treated, because it was clear that they were essentially the same weapon involving the same features of concealment, speed and surprise. The magistrate could and should have taken judicial notice of that fact.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little