Section 39 of the Crimes Act contains the most serious poisoning offence which accordingly attracts the harshest penalties.
It says that where you administer or cause another person to take a poison or intoxicating substance, which endangers their life or causes them to suffer grievous bodily harm, you could face a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.
To be found guilty under this section, the prosecution must also prove that you intended to injure or were reckless about injuring the other person.
This means that where you were honestly and reasonably unaware that the substance was poisonous and you did not meant to cause the other person harm, you will not be found guilty under this section.
“Grievous bodily harm” is defined as “really serious harm,” such as a permanent and serious disfigurement – including internal organ damage.
Section 39 of the Crimes Act 1900, which deals with Using Poison etc to Endanger Life or Inflict Grievous Bodily Harm, reads as follows:
39 Using Poison etc to Endanger Life or Inflict Grievous Bodily Harm
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if:
(a) the person administers to another person, or causes another person to take, any poison, intoxicating substance or other destructive or noxious thing, and
(b) the poison, intoxicating substance or other thing endangers the life of, or inflicts grievous bodily harm on, the other person, and
(c) the person intends to injure, or is reckless about injuring, the other person.
Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.
(2) If on the trial of a person charged with an offence against this section the jury is not satisfied that the offence is proven but is satisfied that the person has committed an offence against section 41 or 41A, the jury may acquit the person of the offence charged and find the person guilty of an offence against section 41 or 41A. The person is liable to punishment accordingly.
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