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Stouthrief (alternatively stouthreif[1]) is the Scottish criminal offence of use or threat of violence against a householder who defends themselves during a housebreaking; it is additional to any associated robbery offence.[2]

It is to be distinguished from the offence of Hamesucken which is breaking into the home of an individual and assaulting him where that is the initial purpose.[3] Both are offences in Common Law, typically to be found in the description of the offences libelled in court relative to a single incident rather than in the usually less-detailed newspaper reports of such a trial.

Section 285 ("Certain crimes not to be tried in inferior courts") of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975[4] prevented prosecution for stouthrief in a court of summary jurisdiction other than a Sheriff Court.

Although rarely used, prosecutions for Hamesucken were brought in 2011[3] and 2015.[5]


  1. ^ According to William Roughead - "Trial of Dr. Pritchard - Notable Scottish Trials" the spelling should be STOUTHREIF. See p.343, reference to the execution in front of New Prison of Dd.Little on 27th. January 1831 for stouthreif.
  2. ^ A practical treatise on the criminal law of Scotland - John H A MacDONALD 1867
  3. ^ a b Sloan (2011-08-25). "Hamesucken is alive and well in Scots Law". Prout de Jure. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  4. ^ Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975.
  5. ^ Bynorth, John (2015-07-08). "Man in court accused under ancient law". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 2015-07-08.