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Examples of GBH Section 18 Cases & Outcomes

GBH Section 18 Case Examples

If you or someone you care about has been charged with GBH Section 18, it stands to reason that you might be curious about other GBH Section 18 cases. In particular, you might be interested in knowing what past cases were about, and how guilty parties were punished.

grievous bodily harm

Have you been accused of GBH with intent, also known as the GBH Section 18 offence? If so, you likely have a lot of questions about what the law says, what might happen to you and how you might be punished. While every case is different, it does sometimes help to see how other cases in the same category have been treated. This might give you an idea of what could happen in your case and may set your mind at ease in preparing your defence.

What is a GBH Section 18 offence?

Grievous bodily harm, or GBH, is a very serious offence under English criminal law. GBH is said to occur when severe physical harm is inflicted on one person by another. When a person inflicts this level of harm on another person intentionally, it is said to be a Section 18 offence, which is covered by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

This is to be differentiated from a Section 20 offence, which occurs when that same level of harm is inflicted on another person, but there is no intention to do so (for example, a Section 20 offence may be committed if someone pushes a person away from them in a fight and that person stumbles backwards, trips on something, and sustains a severe cut in the process).

There are numerous ways that GBH Section 18 offences can be committed, but some examples of events that might be deemed a Section 18 offence include:

  • Causing a disfigurement that can be seen, including a fractured skull, broken leg, head injury that causes a motor disability, and even psychiatric injury that presents visibly
  • Striking someone with a blunt object, such as a baseball bat or a piece of wood
  • Deliberately running over someone, or hitting them with a car
  • Attacking someone with a broken bottle or other sharp object, such as a knife
  • Kicking someone in the head, which can present significantly more serious physical and psychological injury to an individual than harming them elsewhere
  • Throwing acid at someone, either in their face or on any other part of their body
  • Using teeth in an attack, which results in the breaking of the victim’s skin

Because of the severity of GBH section 18 offences, the police have a wide range of powers to collect evidence that may support the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) case against you. The police will not be able to do so immediately, but they can quickly obtain permission from the magistrate to search your personal belongings, whether they be in your house, your car, or even in your workplace.

GBH Section 18 case examples


Case Details Judgment Date Sentence Link to Transcript
Kicking someone nine times in the head causing facial disfigurement 03/04/2012 9 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript
Biting off a portion of flesh from someone’s face 16/09/2015 7 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript
Throwing corrosive acid in someone’s face 20/03/2007 6.5 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript
Striking someone’s face with broken glass, resulting in 30 stitches being needed 18/12/2012 9 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript
Breaking into someone’s home and hitting them twice with a baseball bat, causing a fractured arm and head injury 10/02/2015 9 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript


Stabbing someone in the neck in defence of an attack on the person’s wife 01/06/2012 6 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript
Knocking down a police officer with a car with intent to resist arrest 23/10/2012 9 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript


GBH Section 18 cases defended by Stuart Miller Solicitors

The team at Stuart Miller solicitors have many years of experience in defending cases involving GBH section 18 and have been able to secure acquittals and case dismissals for countless cases in this category. Examples include:

  • A woman who had been abused by her alcoholic partner for years was accused of stabbing her husband but was found not guilty in just 56 minutes when our solicitors challenged the prosecution to prove that the knife had traces of the victim’s blood on it.
  • A ‘family man’ with no criminal record was facing 12 years in prison for participating in a stabbing that occurred in a mechanic’s garage, but we managed to secure vital CCTV footage showing that he was not involved at all in the attack and his case was dropped immediately.

What are the sentencing guidelines for GBH Section 18 offences?

Typically, sentences for GBH Section 18 offences can be anywhere from three years to a maximum of life imprisonment.

In deciding what sentence to give you, the court will look to a number of factors that could aggravate or mitigate. In plain terms, this means that it could make your punishment worse or it could make your punishment lighter. An aggravating factor might be the fact that you inflicted this violence upon someone as part of a gang activity, whereas a mitigating factor might be that this was your first offence and you were in such a high state of stress that you were acting out of character in getting into a fight.

Read more about GBH Section 18 sentencing guidelines.

What are possible defences for GBH Section 18 offences?

If you get arrested under suspicion of grievous bodily harm, you will be taken to a police station. This will be the first opportunity you have to ask for a solicitor to visit you. At this point, you will be able to start preparing your defence.

Possible defences for GBH Section 18 offences include:

  • Consent. It may sound strange, but there is an ongoing debate in the law as to whether you can consent to serious harm been inflicted upon you. This is readily accepted as a defence in sporting events, but only where the injury is a normal part of participation in that sport, for example boxing. The law is not 100% clear on whether this defence can be applied to other situations where a person may consent to violence being inflicted upon them, for example, organised (illegal) street fights and sadomasochistic sexual activities. If you have been accused of a GBH Section 18 offence in the context of these kinds of activities, it is worth telling your solicitor about the activity in order that they may find some line of defence, which, if it cannot relieve you of the full liability for the offence, may in any case reduce the possible charge and/or punishment.
  • Accident. The defence of accident applies where you did intend to cause harm the person, but some other accident happened that made the harm even worse. If, for example, you drive into the back of someone’s car hoping to cause them whiplash, but the impact pushes them into the path of an oncoming vehicle and they end up in a head on collision and sustain very serious injuries, then you may – exceptionally – be able to rely on the defence of accident. The likelihood of this offence succeeding, however, is predicated on the idea of reasonableness, which means that you cannot rely on the defence if it was reasonable that you could see the additional harm occurring because of the situation. If you run into someone’s car on an ordinarily quiet road, you may be able to rely on the defence, but if you do so on a busy motorway, you likely cannot.

In addition to these special offences are a series of general defences that relate to the person accused and not to the specific circumstances of the crime itself. These include:

  • Self-defence. If you end up injuring someone significantly in the course of defending yourself against imminent violence, you may be able to rely on self-defence assuming that the force you used to go to the person to determine that violence was reasonably necessary to defend yourself.
  • Mistake. If you injure someone because you mistook some key factor in the events that unfolded, you may be able to rely on the defence of mistake. Note, however, that this offence only applies where, for example, you attacked someone in the middle of the night believing that it was a burglar and actually it was your partner. It would not apply if you simply mistook the appearance of someone and you, for example, stabbed that person believing it was the intended victim.
  • Insanity. If due to mental illness you were unable to understand that what you were doing was against the law, you may be acquitted on the grounds of insanity. A result of this defence being successful, however, is that you may be detained under the Mental Health Act of 1983.

Read more about potential defences to GBH section 18 offences.

How can I get further help?

If you need additional help with a GBH Section 18 offence, either one that you are facing yourself or that you are helping a loved one to deal with, contact the team at Stuart Miller Solicitors today. Our highly experienced team of criminal law experts will be able to help you prepare a defence and give you the best advice on how to move forward with your case.

(This page was last updated on November 27, 2023.)


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