What is reckless grievous bodily harm?

Section 35(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 provides that a person who causes causes grievous bodily harm to any person, and is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that or any other person, is guilty of an offence.

Section 35(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 is the charge assigned to persons who commit this offence in the company of others.

What is Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)?

Section 4(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 defines “grievous bodily harm” as:

  • any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person,
  • the destruction of a foetus, and
  • any grievous bodily disease (EG. Infecting a person with HIV)

The common law defines, “grievous bodily harm” simply as any injury that is “really serious”: DPP v Smith [1961] AC 290.

Other examples of Grievous Bodily Harm include:

  • Battery of a person causing serious injury.
  • Serious fractures of the skull or jaw requiring a long recovery time.
  • Cuts and / or lacerations requiring surgery.
  • Broken bones.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Brain damage.

The way in which grievous bodily harm may be inflicted varies substantially: R v Kama (2000) 110 A Crim R 47 at [16]

What is recklessness?

This is where the risk of harm was foreseen, but the accused took the risk regardless of the possibility of harm to another person: Chen v R [2013] NSWCCA 116 at [65].

The culpability for being recklessness is a lower that of the culpability of having intention to commit harm.

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