Criminal Law Key Cases

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  • Created by: _laurenb
  • Created on: 24-05-15 17:30

Voluntary Nature of actus reus

HILL V BAXTER

  • shows a defendant who is not in control of his actions cannot be liable for actus reus of a crime
  • stated that a defendant who committed a driving offence whilst being stung by bees,
  • struck on the head by a stone
  • or having a heart attack
  • could not be liable for actus reus

THE ACT OR OMISSION MUST BE VOLUNTARY ON THE PART OF THE DEFENDANT

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State of Affairs Case

LARSONNEUR

  • defendant was ordered to leave the UK
  • went to Ireland
  • but was deported back to the UK
  • there, she was charged for being in the UK after being ordered to leave
  • this was despite the fact she did not return voluntarily

STRICT LIABILITY IS 'BEING RATHER THAN DOING'.

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The 5 Exceptions to the Rule of Omissions

1. A contractural duty

2. A duty because of a relationship

3. A duty that is taken on voluntarily

4. A duty through an official position

5. A duty because of a chain of events that is set in motion by the defendant

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A Contractual Duty

Pittwood

  • man worked as a railway crossing keeper 
  • omitted to shut the gates
  • person was killed by oncoming train
  • was guilty of manslaughter
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A Duty Because of a Relationship

GIBBING & PROCTOR

  • father and his partner omitted to feed child
  • child died
  • convicted of murder
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A Duty That is Taken on Voluntarily

STONE & DOBINSON

  • elderly sister of Stone came to cohabit
  • she became ill
  • defendants omitted to care for her
  • and omitted to seek medical help
  • they were convicted of manslaughter
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A Duty Through One's Official Position

DYTHAM

  • police officer witnessed attack
  • omitted to intervene
  • drove away
  • convicted of unwillfully and without reasonable excuse neglecting to perform his duty
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A Duty Because of a Chain of Events...

MILLER

  • squatter set fire to a room 
  • he omitted to put it out
  • and moved to another room
  • he was convicted of arson
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Discontinuation of Medical Treatment

AIREDALE NHS TRUST V BLAND

  • man was in a persistent vegitative state
  • he was being artificially fed
  • doctors decided to discontinue treatment
  • this was not held as an omission

DISCONTINUATION OF MEDICAL TREATMENT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PATIENT IS NOT AN OMISSION WHICH CAN FORM THE ACTUS REUS

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Actus Reus - Factual Cause

WHITE

  • defendant put cyanide in mother's drink
  • died of heart attack before she drank it
  • could not be charged with murder
  • consequence would have happened 'but for' his actions

PAGETT

  • man shot at police officers
  • they shot back
  • shielded himself with his pregnant girlfriend
  • she died
  • he was convicted of her murder
  • as 'but for' his actions, the consequence would not have occured
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Actus Reus - Cause in Law

BLAUE

  • defendant stabbed woman
  • victim was Jehovah's witness
  • so she refused a blood transfusion
  • this could have saved her life
  • she died
  • defendant convicted of her murder
  • the act of the defendant was more than a minimal cause of the consequence
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Medical Treatment Can Break the Chain of Causation

JORDAN

  • defendant stabbed
  • was recovering in hospital
  • but was given a drug that he had an allergic reaction to
  • this reaction killed him
  • the defendant was not charged with murder
  • the medical treatment was so independant of the defendant's act that it constituted an intervening order
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Victim's Own Act as Intervening Order

ROBERTS

  • girl was subject to sexual advances from defendant
  • she jumped from the defendant's car she was in
  • suffered injuries
  • act was stated to be foreseeable
  • defendant held liable for her injuries

WILLIAMS

  • hitch-hiker jumped from car
  • suffered with head injuries which he died from
  • it was stated the driver had tried to steal his wallet
  • this act was not foreseeable
  • the driver was not convicted for the murder
  • the victim's own act was held to be an intervening act
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Mens Rea - Intention

MOHAN

  • this case stated the definition of 'intention'
  • 'a decision to bring about, in so far as it lies within the accused's power, no matter whether the accused desired that consequence of his act or not'
  • = the accused decided to act and therefore had intention even if he planned for a different outcome of his actions to occur
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Foresight of Consequences

WOOLIN

  • man threw his 3 month old baby towards pram
  • the pram was against a wall
  • the baby suffered head injuries
  • the baby died
  • the courts declared the death as a foreseeable consequence
  • the man was convicted of murder
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Cunningham Recklessness

CUNNINGHAM

  • man pulled gas meter off of the wall of an empty house
  • he intended to take the money from it
  • but this caused a gas leak
  • gas seeped into a neighbouring house
  • neighbour affected by gas
  • was not convicted as it was decided he had not intended to cause the harm and he had not taken a risk which he was aware of
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Transferred Malice

LATIMER

  • defendant swung a belt aiming to hit another man
  • the belt hit another woman as well
  • defendant was convicted of assault against the woman
  • he had not intended to hit her, but the intention to hit the man was transferred to the woman

PEMBILTON

  • a man threw a stone intending to hit people
  • he missed and the stone hit a window
  • the window broke
  • he was not held liable for the damage 
  • as the intention to hit the people could not be transferred to a window
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Coincidence of actus reus and mens rea

Thambo Meli

  • defendants hit man over the head
  • they then threw him over a cliff side, believing he was dead
  • he did not die from the blow to the head or the fall, but the exposure
  • the defendants claimed the AR and MR were not present at the same time as when they intended to kill him (MR) the act they carried out did not actually kill him (AR) - this was the blow to the head which was not the cause of death
  • it was held that there was a continuing act present
  • the defendants were convicted of murder
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Coincidence of actus reus and mens rea

Fagan V Metropolitan Police Commissioner

  • man informed to pull over
  • drove onto police officer's foot by accident
  • once realising, he did not move
  • it was held that both the AR and MR were present at the same time
  • this was because the actus reus was present in the way he drove onto the police officer's foot and the mens rea became present when he intentionally remained there
  • there was therefore a continuing act
  • he was held to be liable for the injuries caused to the police officer
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Strict Liability

LARSONNEUR

  • defendant was ordered to leave the UK
  • went to Ireland
  • but was deported back to the UK against her will
  • there, she was convicted of being in the UK after being ordered to leave
  • this was despite the fact that the mens rea was not present as she did not intend to return to the UK
  • mens rea was not present, but actus reus was = strict liability case

HARROW LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL V SHAH

  • shop sold lottery ticket to minor who was under 16
  • shop owners had put notices in the shop and informed staff to avoid this
  • therefore it was evident that there was no presence of mens rea
  • but the actus reus was present and so the defendants were charged
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