Case Law for Actus Reus and Mens Rea

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  • Created on: 23-10-12 09:47
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Hill v Baxter The act or omission must be voluntary on the part of the
defendant. If the defendant has no control over his
actions then he has not committed the actus reus.
Pittwood Failure to act under contract can form the actus reus of
an offence.
Gibbins and Proctor Failure to perform a duty when you have a relationship
to the person can form the actus reus of an offence.
Stone and Dobbinson Failure to perform a duty which has been taken on
voluntarily can form the actus reus of an offence.
Miller Failure to do a duty which arises because the defendant
has set in motion a chain of events.
Dytham Failure to act through one's official position can form the
actus reus of an offence.
Larsonneur If the defendant is in a `state of affairs', they have been
convicted even though they did not act voluntarily.
Airedale NHS Trust v Bland If discontinuance of medical treatment is in the best
interest of the patient then this is not an omission to act
which can form the actus reus.
Pagett The defendant can only be guilty if the consequence
would not have happened `but for' the defendant's
conduct.
White The defendant can only be guilty if the consequence
would not have happened `but for' the defendant's
conduct.
Blaue The defendant must take the victim as he finds him (the
`thin skull rule')
Smith Medical treatment will not break the chain of causation
if the overwhelming cause of death is the act of the
defendant.
Cheshire The act of a third party must be very independent of the
defendant's acts and `in itself so potent in causing
death' that the defendant's acts are insignificant to
break the chain of causation.
Jordan The act of a third party must be very independent of the
defendant's acts and `palpably wrong' that the
defendant's acts are insignificant to break the chain of
causation.
Malcherek Switching off a life support machine when a patient is
brain dead does not break the chain of causation.
Roberts If a defendant causes the victim to react in a
foreseeable way, then any injury to the victim will have
been caused by the defendant.
Williams If the victim's actions are not `within the ambit of
reasonableness' and so daft as to make his own
voluntary act one which amounted to a novus actus
interveniens' (an intervening act), the chain of
causation will be broken.

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Mohan If the defendant's main aim was the prohibited
consequence, then it was the defendant's intention.
Woollin If the defendant's main aim was not the prohibited
consequence, but, in achieving the aim, the defendant
foresaw that he would cause those consequences, then
the defendant has indirect intent.
Matthews and Alleyne If the defendant's main aim was not the prohibited
consequence, but, in achieving the aim, the defendant
foresaw that he would cause those consequences, then
the defendant has indirect intent.…read more

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