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Law Revision Notes: Topic 1 ­ Actus reus /
Omissions / Causation
Actus Reus

The actus reus of a crime can be defined as the physical element of the crime itself this
can consist of:

An act
A failure to act (known in law as an omission)
A `state of…

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lunch. While he was away a pedestrian stepped onto the line and was struck and
killed by an oncoming train. Pittwood was found guilty of manslaughter, as he had a
duty of care to the pedestrian as laid out by his contract, in which one of his duties
was to…

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Involuntary manslaughter and omissions

Involuntary manslaughter can be committed in two main ways: unlawful act manslaughter
and gross negligence manslaughter (Topic 7). Unlawful act manslaughter cannot be
committed by an omission, as found in the case of Lowe (1973).

Lowe (1973): The defendant was the father of a nine week…

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Khan and Khan (1998): The D's supplied heroin to a new user, who collapsed when she
took it. The D's decided to leave her, and returned later to find her dead. The CA quashed the
conviction of unlawful act manslaughter but said there could be a duty to summon medical…

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Legal cause
This part of the test considers whether or not it was the defendant's actions that caused the
final consequence, or if something contributed to the death that was too significant for the
blame to the placed on the defendant. The current principle is that D's conduct need not…

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The victims own actions
A natural but unpredictable event



Medical treatment
This is unlikely to break a chain of causation unless it is so independent of the defendants
actions and in itself so potent in causing death that the D's acts are rendered insignificant.
The following cases outline this:

Smith…

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Victims own act
Testing for this is known as the daftness test, and was established in the case of Williams
(1992) where it was decided that in order for there to be a break in the chain of causation the
actions of the Victim had to be foreseeable, and in…

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defendant not to find out this information prior to committing the act. However, there is a
problem surrounding victims refusing medical treatment, as in the case of Holland (1841)
the D deliberately cut V's finger, but not enough to kill him. However, V allowed the cut to go
untreated and…

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