R V White 1910
The defendant put poison in some milk that was intended for his mother. She drank the milk before going to bed and didn't wake the next morning. The medical reports indicated that she died of a heart attack and the poison did not contribute to her death. Therefore, the defendant was found not liable as his actions did not bring about her death. He was, however, found liable for attempted murder. This case established the "But For" test ei. would the outcome still be the same if the defendant had not carried out the action? If it would then the defendant will always be found not liable.
R V Roberts 1978
The victim was a 21 year old woman who recieved a lift from the defendant (whom she had never met) to get to a party at 3am. The defendant began driving the wrong way and came to a stop in a deserted place. He made several sexual advances towards the victim which she refused and so he drove off at speed. He continued making these advances towards her so in a bid to escape him, she jumped out of the moving vehicle. The result of this was a concussion and various cuts and bruises. The defendant was found guilty of Actual Bodily Harm under Section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. The defendant went on to appeal this conviction and stated that the risk of her suffering Actual Bodily Harm was not foreseeable from his actions as her jumping from the moving vehicle was unexpected; her actions were Novus Actus Interveniens.
R V Pagett
The defendant, aged 31, was in a relationship with a 16 year old after separating from his wife. He found out that his girlfriend was pregnant and after 6 months, she decided to leave him due to the high levels of violence he exibited. He did not take this news well and, armed with a shot gun, headed to her parents house. Here, he shot the father in the leg and held the mother at gunpoint. He demanded that she take him to where her daughter was hiding. When he reached her, he displayed various threatening/violent behvaiours and then took off with the girl and the mother. The police followed and caught up with them so the defendant kicked the mother out of the car. He then took the victim to a flat and held her hostage. Surrounded by armed police officers, he used the victim as a shield and walked outside onto the balcony. He began firing shots at the officers so they returned fire. The girl got caught up in the shots from the police and died. The defendant was found guilty of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, kidnap of the mother and daughter, attempted murder of the victims father and two police officers and the manslaughter of the victim. He appealed this conviction on the issue of causation. However, the conviction was upheld because his action of firing at the officers led them to fire back in self-defence. As he used the victim as a shield, he caused her death.
R V Jordan 1956
The defendant stabbed the victim who was then taken to hospital. Here, he was given antibiotics, although showing signs of an allergic reaction to them. He was also given excessive levels of intravenous liquids, 8 days after being admitted, he died of pneumonia. At the time of death, the stab wound was healing. In this case, the victim died as a result of the treatment he recieved and not the stab wound. This meant the defendant was not liable for the victim's death.
R V Blaue
The defendant stabbed an 18 year old girl 4 times after refusing to have sexual intercourse with him. She was a practising Jehovah's Witness and so refused to accept a blood transfusion which would have saved her life. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminshed responsibility. He appealed this conviction and argued that the girl's refusal of a blood transfusion was a Novus Actus Interveniens, breaking the chain of causation, and that Holland was no longer good law. However, the conviction was held because the wound was still and operative cause of death (following the cases of R V Smith and R V Jordan) which meant that no Novus Actus Interveniens was present and that Holland was still good law.
R V Dear
The daughter of the defendant made an accusation against a man regarding sexual abuse. Following this, the defendant went after the man and repeatedly cut him with a Stanley knife. The victim did recieve medical treatment for the wounds but later re-opened them in what was thought to be a suicide attempt. The victim died two days after the inital attack. The defendant was convicted but argued that the man's actions in re-opening the wounds amounted to a Novus Actu Interveniens. The conviction was upheld as the wound was still a substantial cause of death.