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An Introduction to Murder 2013


The traditional basis of criminal liability is an Actus Reus (the physical element).
The general principle is that a person may not be convicted of a crime unless the
prosecution has proved beyond doubt that the defendant…

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An Introduction to Murder 2013

It has been defined by decisions of judges in cases and the accepted definition is the
one given by Lord Coke on 17th Century:
"Murder is the unlawful killing of a reasonable person in being and under the King's
(or Queen's) Peace, with malice aforethought,…

Page 3

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An Introduction to Murder 2013

The Crown Prosecution Service brought a test prosecution for manslaughter following
the suicide of a woman after a long period of domestic abuse on her. On the evening of
the suicide, her husband had struck her in the forehead, causing a cut. He was then…

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An Introduction to Murder 2013

Commentary: the decision (concerned with attempted murder) does not deal
directly with the point it is a good illustration of lack factual causation.
But for his act, the defendant's act would have still died and so he was not the
cause of her death.


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An Introduction to Murder 2013

2. Medical intervention.
R v Jordan (1956):
The defendant stabbed the victim who died a few days later following treatment of
the wound. The wound had almost healed and the immediate cause of death was
the medical treatment, described as "palpably wrong"

Conviction quashed.…

Page 6

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An Introduction to Murder 2013

In dismissing the defendant's appeal, the court stated that an intervention must be
independent and voluntary to break the chain. A reasonable act or self defence did not
break the chain because it was an involuntary response, dependant on the defendant's

5. Thin…

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An Introduction to Murder 2013

2. Duty arising from statute:
Where a defendant is dutybound by a specific statute or law to act but they willingly do
not do so they are liable f an offence. R v Dytham (1979).

3. Contractual Duty:
R v Instan (1893).


Page 8

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An Introduction to Murder 2013

R v Cunningham (1981):
D attacked V in a pub. He hit C repeatedly with a chair. V died from his injuries. D was
convicted of murder. The House of Lords dismissed his appeal. It held that the law was
firmly established. An intention to…

Page 9

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An Introduction to Murder 2013

A soldier shot and killed his stepfather in response to a drunken challenge. He claimed
that he did not aim the gun at the victim and had, at the time, no idea that firing it would
cause injury. The judge directed that intention included both…

Page 10

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An Introduction to Murder 2013

hard surface. Part of the judge's direction suggested that intention could be established
if he realised that there was a substantial risk of grievous bodily harm.

Held: Appeal allowed, the manslaughter was substituted for murder. Using the phrase
"substantial risk" was misdirection, blurring the distinction…


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