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ACTUS REUS CAUSATION
YOU CAN ONLY BE GUILTY OF A CRIME IF YOU CAUSED IT ( THE LEGAL TERM FOR THIS IS
FOR MANY CRIMES AS THE PART OF ACTUS REUUR THE PROSECUTION WILL HAVE TO
PROVE THAT THE D CAUSED A PARTICULAR RESULT. THESE ARE THEREFORE KNOWN AS
`RESULT CRIMES'. MURDER IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A RESULT CRIME AS THE
PROSECUTION MUST PROVE THAT THE D CAUSED THE V'S DEATH. PROVING CAUSATION
IS SOME CASES IS EASY (E.G. THE D SHOT THE V AND THEREFORE CAUSED THE DEATH). IN
OTHER CASES CAUSATION MAY BE MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TO ESTABLISH.
The prosecution must prove that the D was:
1. The FACTUAL cause
2. The LEGAL cause
3. There was no intervening act which broke the chain of causation
1. The Factual causation:
-the starting point is that the D must be the factual cause of the harm/death. In order
to establish factual causation the `but for' test is used e.g., `But for' the D's conduct
would the V have been harmed? -> in other words ` if the harm have occurred
anyway, regardless of the D's actions then the D is NOT the factual cause.
R V WHITE
-Facts: D have put poison in his mum's drink because he wanted her dead because
then he would get all of her money. The next day the mother was found dead, but
she died from a heart attack and not the poison.
-Principle: but for the D's conduct would the V have died? (YES) therefore D not
liable for murder as his actions were not the cause of death.
-Facts: D was driving a horse and a cart without holding to the reins. Child ran out in
front of the cart and was killed.
-Principle: D's negligent driving did not cause the death because the court said that
even if the D had been driving carefully the child would have been killed anyway.
The factual causation was not proven.
-Facts: D was chased by armed police, and they were trying to arrest him.
He took his pregnant GF hostage and used her as a human shield. He came out from
the house with his GF in front of him and was shooting at the police. The police
returned the fire and unfortunately the woman died.
-Principle: `but for the D's conduct would the V have died? (NO) therefore the D was
the factual cause of the death.
2. Legal Causation:
-proving legal causation can be a little trickier than proving the factual causation.
-the courts have stated that the conduct must be more (De minimis) than a minimal
cause. This means that the D's conduct does not have to be sole or main cause, but
must be more than a minimal cause.
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-However, in KIMSEY the court of Appeal held that it was acceptable to tell the jury
that the D's conduct does not have to be the principal or substantial cause of the
harm/death, as long as they are sure there was more than a slight or trifling (small)
-Why the test from KIMSEY been criticised?
The test is very vague it's not accurate, not specific
Different juries may interpret the words differently.
Here's a taster:
-Facts: D slashed V's artery with a knife
The V did nothing to stop the bleeding and he bled to death
-Principle: V isn't under a duty to seek any medical treatment ( not under duty to go to a
hospital) and failing to do so does not break the COC
D was found guilty of V's death
-Facts: V had been cut on a finger by the D
The wound became infected and he was advised to have his finger amputated but…read more
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-Facts: V was stabbed in the stomach, he then was treated at the hospital and the wounds were
healing well. He had been given an antibiotic and suffered an allergic reaction. The next day another
doctor gave him a bigger dose of the same antibiotic and the V died.
-Principle: The hospital was described as `palpably wrong'. Because the doctors knew about the
allergy is was sufficiently independent to break the COC. The D was not guilty because the COC was