a2 law unit 3 - murder

revision notes on murder and the different forms on manslaughter

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  • common law offence
  • definied by Sir Edward Coke as: "an unlawful killing of a reasonable person in being and under the queens peace with malice aforethought"
  • Law reform (Year and Day Rule) Act 1966- death can occur with in 3 years of injury or longer if Attorney general gives permission
  • AR- unlawful killing i.e. voluntary act or omission which causes death
  • England generally not penalised for omissions exceptions: contractual duty (pitwood), parental or family equivalant (gibbons and proctor), duties of holdr of public office (dytham), voluntary assumption of care (stone v dobinson), creation of danderous situation (miller)
  • MR- "malice aforethought" - intention to kill intention to cause GBH (smith) and oblique intent (foresight of consequences) > jury may infer intention if consequence virtually certain one and they believe D knew this woolin
  • Murder crime if SPECIFIC intent - evidence of intoxication D may not be able to form MR
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2 types of causation!!!

These are factual and legal causation - both must be proved!!!

Factual causation - "but for" test - "but for" defendants conduct would the end result have occured - Pagett (proven) - white (not proven)

Legal causation- "significant contribution" test i.e. D's conduct must make a significant contribution to end result and that end result must be forseeable (chesire)

thin skull rule - blaue

victims own actions - break chain if viewed as unforseeable and daft (Williams)

- Roberts victims own actions not viewed as daft (in proportion to threat)

medical treatment palpably wrong - Jordan

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voluntary manslaughter

This is NOT a defence in its own right!!!! The defence charged is murder (i.e. d has the AR and MR for murder) but due to succesfully pleading provocation or diminished responsibility their conviction is reduced to manslaughter!!!

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Diminsished responsibilty

  • Section 2 HA 1957
  • 3 elements to prove. D must prove on balnce of probablities
  • 1) suffer from abnormailty of mind i.e. " a state of mind so different from that of a ordnary human being that a reasonanle man would term it absurd" Byrne - so cant determine right from wrong. examples perverted and violated sexual desires (byrne), paranoid shziophrenia (sutcliffe), post - natal deprssion (reynolds), killing in fit of jealousy (miller)
  • 2) comes from inherent cause i.e within mind itsself. Problems can occur where D was suffering from an abnormailty of mind but was intoxicated ar the time of killing. Dietschmann- consider whether despite drink, it was the abnormaility of mind that substancially impaired the D's mental responsibility
  • 3) D's mental responsibility substancially impaired by abnormaility of mind - seriously effect the D's undersatnding and perceptions of sitautions make them do stuff they would not normally do. Gittens - "more than the minimal"
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section 3 H.A 57

definition: Devlin J in Duffy defined it as: "some acts or series of acts done by the victim to another, which would in any reasonable person and did in fact cause the D a sudden and tempoary loss of self control, rendering him so subject passion he was was not master of his mind"

In theory any conduct can amount to provocation/ does not even have to be directed at D (pearson). Cumulative provocation can be considered as long as teere is a final straw - Ahluwalia

1) 1st element: provoked into sudden and tempoary loss of self control - tested subjectivly. it must be sudden but need not be immediate - "cooling off" periods may be taken into account but longer "cooling off" period = less likely loss of self control sudden and tempoary.

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Provocation continued.....

2) 2nd element: question for jury objective test laid down in Holley.

  • Jury must decide whether a reasonable person of the same age and sex of D would have acted in same way. Reasonable man ordinary powers of self control!!!
  • gravity of provocation to D - individual characterisics of D only relevant to gravity of provatin not in comparison with reasonable man!!!
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Involuntary manslaughter

Occurs where D causes a death without malice aforethought (i.e. intention to kill or cause GBH)

  • 3 possible types: unlawful act manslaughter, gross negligence mansluaghter and subjective recklessness manslaughter.
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unlawful act manslughter

AR - unlawful act causing death

MR - of unlawful act

Goodfellow > Lord lane - 4 stage test - guilt/innocence?!!!!!

1) unlawful act - criminal sense - omission will not suffice e.g. Arson unlawful act (goodfellow) but pointing gun at someone os not (Lamb)

2) objectivly dangerous - reasonable person forsee the risk of exposing others to some harm albeit not serious harm - church

3) unlawful act caused death - apply rules of CAUSATION!!!!

4) MR unlawful act required - must be intentioanl act. does not have to be intention to cause harm - DPP v Newbury and Jones

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