DPP v Armstrong

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
DPP v Armstrong
Court High Court Of Justice (Queen's Bench Division)
Decided 5 November 1999
Citation(s) [2000] Crim LR 379, 1999 EWHC QB 270
Cases cited R v Quail (1866) 4 F & F 1976
R v Fitzmaurice (1983) 76 Cr App R 17
Legislation cited common law
Case history
Prior action(s) None
Subsequent action(s) None
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Lord Justice Tuckey, Mr Justice Moses
Incitement; impossibility

DPP v Armstrong 1999 EWHC QB 270, [2000] Crim LR 379 is a decision of the English Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice dealing with incitement when the offence incited is impossible, in the circumstances, of commission. It was ruled that this impossibility is irrelevant to the incitement itself and therefore a conviction is sustainable.


Armstrong approached a police informer seeking child pornography. The informer referred Armstrong to a police officer acting undercover. Armstrong contacted the undercover officer and arrangements were made for a transaction; he was later arrested and charged with inciting the officer to distribute indecent photographs of children contrary to common law. In fact the police officer had no intention of providing Armstrong with child pornography.


The case was heard by a stipendiary magistrate. It was argued before him that because Armstrong and the officer lacked a shared intention to commit an offence, Armstrong should be acquitted. He was referred to the cases of R v Shaw[1] and R v Curr[2] and ruled that on these authorities, the lack of an intention by the police officer to supply child pornography was fatal to the prosecution case, and acquitted. The prosecutor appealed.


Lord Justice Tuckey, having reviewed the common law and academic opinion, considered that neither implied a requirement to prove shared intention as contended by Armstrong. Turning to the authorities, he further stated that there was nothing in either to imply such a requirement. Ruling that

...it was not necessary for the prosecutor to show that the officer intended to supply child pornography to the respondent. His intention was irrelevant. The offence of incitement was committed when he was asked to commit the offence of supplying child pornography with the intention on the part of the respondent that in doing so he would be committing a criminal offence

, the court rejected the defence of impossibility and the magistrates' ruling was quashed.


  1. ^ R v Shaw 1994 Crim LR 365
  2. ^ R v Curr 1968 2 QB 944, 1967 51 Cr App R 113