AQA Law Unit 3 - Murder & Manslaughter

  • Created by: cg97
  • Created on: 13-06-15 12:50


Factual Causation

  • 'But for the defendant's actions, would the death still have occurred?' = 'The But For Test
  • R v White (1910)

Legal Causation

Does the chain linking the defendant's original actions to the death remain unbroken? - Must be more than a 'slight or trifling link' (R v Kimsey)

  • Third Party Intervention = foreseeable will break the chain (Pagett)
  • Medical Intervention = will not break chain if original injury is still operating and substantial (Smith; Cheshire) unless treatment was 'palpably wrong' (Jordan)
  • Thin Skull/Egg Shell Rule = take your victim as you find him (Blaue)
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Sir Edward Coke's definition of murder from 1797:

"The unlawful killing of a reasonable person in being under the King's peace with malice aforethough expressed or implied"

  • "Unlawful killing" = there is no defence (cannot consent to death and it is a specific intent crime)
  • "Reasonable person in being" = not a foetus (A.G.'s ref no 3 1997) or brain dead (Malcherek v Steel)
  • "Under the King's peace" = not during war
  • "Malice aforethought" - it is said to mean 'premeditation', but this is not necessarily the case. Under English law, it simply means intent.
    • Intent to kill: can be direct (Mohan) or oblique/indirect (Woollin) = EXPRESSED
    • Intent to cause GBH (Vickers) = IMPLIED
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Loss of Control

  • Partial defence to murder which lowers the offence to Voluntary Manslaughter and was brought in under the Coroner's and Justice Act 2009
  • "A partial defence to murder wherein a provoked defendant realises what they are doing but is unable to restrain themselves" (Richens - made in reference to the old law on provocation but still applies to the new law)
  • Death must have resulted from the loss of control (Causation = see other card)
  • There must be a qualifying trigger = this can be things said, done or both
    • Bowyer (2013): "Gives the defendant a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged"
    • Hatter (2013): "Constitutes circumstances of extremely grave character"
  • There are some excluded triggers:
    • Sexual infidelity (Clinton)
    • Revenge (R v Ibrams and Gregory)
    • Incitement (R v Dawes)
  • A defendant of the same sex, age and circumstances would have reacted the same
    • DPP v Camplin: Age is considered (15 year-old boy)
    • Hill (2008): History of sexual abuse counted as circumstances
    • Morhall: Glue-sniffing circumstances taken into account, should this be allowed?
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Diminished Responsibility

  • Partial defence to murder which lowers the offence to Voluntary Manslaughter. Was brought in under the Homicide Act 1957, recent alterations under the Coroner's and Justice Act 2009
  • It is where a defendant suffers an abnormality of mental functioning which absolves some of the blame
  • Must suffer from a recognised medical condition such as:
    • Battered Women Syndrome (Aluwhalia)
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Bradley)
    • If the condition is still 'emerging' (not yet in print), then the case of Byrne says if it is "so different from that of ordinary human beings that the reasonable man would term it abnormal", then it counts
  • The condition must substantially impair the defendant's ability to do one or more of the following: (Would the reasonable man think it was 'substantial'? Golds (2014))
    • Understand the nature of their conduct, form rational judgement (Campbell) or exercise self-control
  • The condition must be a contributory factor and explain the death
  • In terms of a intoxication coupled with a medical condition:
    • Gittens (1984): Disregard intoxication - does condition alone provide sufficient reason?
    • Dietschmann (2003): If drinking has damaged brain/D can no longer resist urge to drink = yes
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Gross Negligence

  • When a person dies as a result of the negligence of another which is sufficiently serious to make him criminally liable for the death
  • There must be a duty of care
    • Donoghue v Stevenson developed the 'Neighbour Test' which determines you owe a duty of care to those closely and directly affected by your acts
    • One can assume a duty (Stone and Dobinson) or be contractually obliged (Pittwood)
    • There is still a duty even if the act is criminal (R v Wacker)
    • Drug dealers owe duty to their clients (Khan v Khan)
  • There must be a breach of duty of care
    • The case of Winters tells us that giving a warning is not enough to discharge your duty
  • The breach must cause the death (apply the principles of causation on first card)
  • The breach must be bad enough to be considered criminal
    • Adomako: "Must be gross and a risk of death" - risk of death is an objective test (Ball)
    • Bateman: "There must be a disregard for the life and safety of others"
    • Misra: There must be an element of "badness"
  • The defendant need only the mens rea for creating danger, not the outcome (Southall Train Crash)
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Unlawful Act Manslaughter

  • A partial defence to murder which lowers the offence to involuntary manslaughter
  • It is the unlawful killing of a person which has taken place where the defendant lacks the mens rea for murder - death usually arises from another intentional unlawful act
  • There must be an unlawful act (e.g. stealing box in Franklin)
  • The defendant must have the mens rea for the unlawful act (R v Lamb)
  • The unlawful act must cause the death (apply the principles of causation on the first card)
    • R v Shohid: the defendant's original act was sufficient for conviction
  • The unlawful act must be dangerous enough to be considered criminal
    • Corion-Auguiste
    • R v Dawson
  • The harm from the unlawful act can be directed at a different person to the victim (transferred malice - R v Mitchell) or at property (Goodfellow 1986)
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