LAW 03 Murder



  • Murder is a common law offence
  • Modified by Lord Taylor
  • The unlawful killing of a human being under the Queen's Peace with malice aforethought, express or implied
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Actus Reus

  • Unlawful killing of a human being under the Queen's Peace
  • Usually a Positive Voluntary Act eg. shooting or stabbing
  • Can be an omission if a duty exists and the mens rea is present eg in Gibbons and Procter
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Unlawful Killing

  • Not a lawful killing
  • A lawful killing could be:
  • Self defence
  • A police shooting
  • An abortion
  • Execution
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Living Person

  • Courts decided that:
  • Lifestarts when the baby is delivered - AG Reference 3 1994
  • End of life is when the brain stem dies - Malcherek
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Under the Queen's Peace

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  • Death must have been caused by the act of the Defendant
  • Factual causation from R v White - but for
  • Legal causation from R v Pagett - More than a minimal cause
  • Chain of causation must always remain intact so no intervening act must occur between the event and the death
  • Medical treatment usually doesnt break the chain - In Smith and Cheshire the original wound was still the operating cause of death
  • In R v Jordan - only if treatment was palpably wrong
  • VOA must be foreseeable as in Roberts and not daft as in Williams
  • Eggshell Skull as in Blaue
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Mens Rea

  • Malice aforethought express or implied
  • Neither hatred nor premeditation are needed
  • Malice aforethought means intention to kill or cause really serious injury
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Express and Implied

  • Express malice refers to the intention to kill
  • Implied malice refers to the intention to cause serious harm as in Cunningham
  • Either type of malice can exist with direct or oblique intention
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Direct and Oblique

  • Direct intention - Killing is the D's aim, purpose and objective as in Mohen
  • Oblique intention - If killing was a virtually certain consequence of achieving some other purpose and the D saw it was virtually certain
  • Nedrick - D must have realised that his actions were virtually certain to lead to death or serious injury - from this the jury can infer whether he has intention
  • Woollin backed this up
  • Matthews and Allayne said that this was an evidential test and not substantive law
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