Unlawful Act Manslaughter

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  • Unlawful Act Manslaughter
    • Definition
      • defendant must do an unlawful act
      • unlawful act must be dangerous on an objective test
      • act must have caused the death
      • D must have required mens rea for unlawful act
    • Unlawful Act
      • A civil wrong is not enough - Franklin (1883)
      • Lowe (1973) - an omission cannot create liability for unlawful act manslaughter
        • willful neglect and manslaughter of baby son
      • Lamb (1967) - pointing of gun not assault as friend did not fear violence
    • Dangerous act
      • Church (1966) - reasonable and sober person should recognised some harm could result
      • Larkin (1943) - women killed when fell on to cut - throat razor blades
        • mnsl upheld as threatening to assault man and objectively dangerous as someone likely to be injured
      • Mitchell (1983) - D hit man in post office who fell onto 89 yr old women
        • transferred malice - D objectively dangerous
      • Action can be against property - Goodfellow (1986)
        • set fire to council house and killed 3 people
      • Dawson (1985) - Ds at petrol station with masks, sticks + fake gun - attendant died of heart attack
        • cause of fear not enough - D must but V at risk of physical harm
        • conviction quashed as reasonable man not aware of condition
      • Watson (1989) -D broke into home of 89 year old man who had hart attack 90 mins later + died
        • Conviction quashed on causation point
        • burglary could be a dangerous act as old man's fragility would be obvious to reasonable man
    • Causing the death
      • Cato (1976) - D + V prepared heroin syringes and injected each other - V died
        • convicted of manslaughter based on unlawful act under s23 OAPA 1861
          • V died from effects of injection
      • Dalby (1982) - supplied drug to person who self injected
        • conviction quashed as self injection breaks chain of causation
        • Kennedy (2007) - HL agreed same view
      • Rogers (2003) - held tourniquet around man's arm - man self-injected and died
        • guilty under s23 OAPA 1861
        • CA held that it was 'artificial and unreal' to separate the tourniquet from the injection
    • Mens rea
      • D must have mens rea for unlawful act
      • not necessary to prove D foresaw any harm of his act
      • Newbury and Jones (1976) - pushed paving stone onto passing train
        • young age of boys not relevant and no need to show they foresaw death


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