Explaining Muder:

-Actus Reus
-Mens Rea

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Actus Reus of Murder



'Unlawful killing of a reasonable creature in being under the King or Queen's peace'
Coke's Institue

-Actus Reus can be an Act or Omission but must cause the death of the victim

-Murder is a result crime.
    -Defendent cannot be guilty unless his Acts or Omissions caused death

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Omission as Actus Reus

General Rule: An Omission cannot be the Actus Reus of a crime.

5 Exceptions

-Contractual Duty - Pitwood

-Duty through Special Relationship (parent and child) - Gibbins and Proctor

-Voluntary Duty - Stone and Dobinson

-Set in motion a Chain of Events - Miller

-Duty through Official Position - Dytham

Should know these from AS

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Reasonable Creature in Being

'Unlawful killing of a reasonable creature in being under the King or Queen's peace'
-Human being
This phrase doesn't normally cause difficulties apart from 2 areas

Killing a Foetus is not muder
   - Child has to have an 'existance independent of the mother' for it to be a 'reasonable creature'
                      Attorney-General's Reference (No.3 of 1994) (1997)
   -House of Lords (HOL) stated that where the foetus is injured and the child is born alive then dies after due to injuries sustained, it can be charged under murder/manslaughter

Brain Dead
-Someone who is brain dead is not seen as a 'reasonable creature'
-Doctors are allowed to switch off life support machines without being liable for murder 
    -They have to carry out a number of tests to prove someone to be brain dead


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Year and a Day Rule

Old Rule

If the victim died within a year and a day from injuries sustained by the Defendant, then the Defendant was liable for murder

This was abolised under Law Reform Act 1996 due to Medical Advances such as Life Support, keeping victims alive for longer

New Law

If the victim dies from injuries sustained by the Defendant, even after a year and a day, the Defendant is still liable for murder.

Where it is more than 3 years after the attack, the consent of the Attorney-General is needed for the prosecution.

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King or Queen's Peace



'Unlawful killing of a reasonable creature in being under the King or Queen's peace'

-Killing an enemy in the course of war is not murder


-Killing a prisioner of war may be murder

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Need to prove:

-Factual Causation

-Legal Causation

-Intervening Acts

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Factual Causation

Always start with Factual Causation 

'But For' test - Pagett

'But for' D shooting V, V would not have died

Opposite situation is seen in the case of White
- D was not the Factual Cause of death

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Legal Causation and Intervining Acts

Once you have satisfied Factual Causation, discuss Legal Causation 

Must be a more than minimal cause but not a substantial cause - Cato

Thin Skull Rule - Take your victim as you find them - Blaue

Intervining Acts
 -Act of a 3rd party
     -Medical Treatment.

          -Rarely breaks the chain of Causation (Cheshire,Smith) 
Palpably wrong (Jordan)
 -Victims Own Act

-Reasonably Foreseeable (Roberts)
     -Not 'So Daft' (Williams)
 -Natural, Unforeseen Event; eg; Hurricane


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Mens Rea of Murder



 'Malice aforethought express or implied'

Malice aforethought Express - Intent to Kill

Malice aforethought Implied - Intent to cause GBH (Vickers)

            -DPP v Smith - GBH means really serious harm.
            -Cunningham confirmed
the decisions made by the Court Of Appeal in Vickers

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Types of Intent

Direct Intent (also known as Purposive Intent) - meant to bring about the consequence

Oblique Intent - D did not mean to bring about the consequence but it was Virtually
that it would happen - Woolin

Foresight of Consequence is evidence of intention - Moloney

Doctrine of Transferred Malice - There is still intent even when D gets the wrong
                                                        person in a crime 
- must be human to human cannot be
                                                                                 human to object

Coincidence of Actus Reus and Mens Rea - Actus Reus and Mens Rea must be 
                                                                           present at the same time for an offence
                                                                           to take place - Thabo Meli v R; Fagan

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