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Gross negligence manslaughter
The second type of involuntary manslaughter occurs when death is the result of defendant's gross
negligence, in circumstances where he has a duty to take care and fails to do so.
Case of R v Adamko there are three main elements of gross manslaughter they need to be
proven in order to prove gross negligence.
a) The existence of duty of care
b) Breach of that duty causing death
c) Gross negligence which the jury considers justifies criminal conviction.
Duty of care
There is a wide-ranging duty not to cause physical harm to other people by one's actions.
Case of Donoghue v Stevenson the manufacturers owned duty of care to the consumer. The key
ruling and quote Lord Atkin (memorise that): "you must take reasonable care to avoid acts or
omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour." You can also
put in brackets (R v Bateman).
In some specific circumstances there may also be a duty not to allow physical harm to occur by
inaction. (R v Stone & Doblinson and R v Miller)
Breach of duty of care that caused death
It must be proved that the defendant's negligence was the cause of the victim's death, and that
the defendant exercised proper care the death would not have occurred.
The definite case for this rule is R v Dolloway. A three-year old child was struck by one of the horse
cart wheels and killed. The judge told the jury that if the defendant could have prevented the
child's death by using the reins then they should find him guilty of manslaughter, but if he
could have done anything to prevent it, and then he would not be guilty in spite of his
negligence HE WAS ACQUITTED.
The level of negligence required for manslaughter is something more than ordinary civil
negligence. In the case of Stone and Doblinson, Geoffrey Lane LJ said: defendant must be proved
to have been indifferent to an obvious risk of injury to health, or actually to have foreseen the
risk but to have determined nevertheless to run it. - R v Adamko.
In Adamko it was held that in order to establish criminal liability, the facts must be such that in the
opinion of the jury, the negligence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation
between subjects and showed such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a
crime against the state and conduct deserving punishment.
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