Murder and Constructive Manslaughter

Actus Reus and Mens Rea for Murder and Constructive manslaughter


Murder Definition

  • Murder is Causing the death of a human being within the queens peace with malice aforethought- Omissions can result in Murder- R v Gibbons and Proctor.
  • Actus Reus- Causing the death of another human being fulfilling either causation in law and causation in fact.
  • Mens Rea- Malice aforethought
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Actus Reus

  • Causing the death of another human being fulfilling either causation in law and causation in fact.
  • Causation in Fact- But for- R v white- Cyanide.
  • Causation in Law- Minimal Cause- R v Blaue and R v Smith- Egg Shell Skull rule
  • R v Pagett- Fulfills both Causation in Fact and law
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Mens Rea

  • Malice aforethought- Intends to kill another or intention to cause GBH resulting in death- Intention is subjective.
  • Direct intent- intends outcome
  • Oblique intent- Does not desire the consequence but is virtually certain- R v Moloney- quashed-Hancock v shankland- R v Nedrick (fire didn't know child was in house)
  • However R v Woollin was virtually certain but used wrong test- reduced to Manslaughter
  • GBH resulting in death- DPP v Smith
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Constructive Manslaughter

  • Also known as Unlawful act manslaughter
  • Where the defendant intends to commit a dangerous criminal act and as a result of this he unintentionally kills someone
  • Crime of negligence and omissions will not suffice e.g. a neglected child.
  • Must be a crime- R v Lamb- no Actus reus
  • Actus Reus- Unlawful act of a dangerous kind that causes the death of a Human Being.
  • Mens rea is fault
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Actus Reus

  • An unlawful act of a dangerous kind which causes the death of a human being- similar to Murder
  • Causation in Law and Fact
  • Dangerous act- Left to jury to decide what is regarded as dangerous- follow the reasonable man test- R v Cato and R v Kennedy (heroin)- R v Watson
  • R v Mitchell- battery sufficient for CM
  • R v Goodfellow act does not have to be directed at the victim
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Mens Rea

  • The mens rea of constructive manslaughter is the fault required to render his act unlawful.
  • Fault is where the defendant must have the mens rea for the unlawful act they have committed as most of these cases involve battery or assault, intention or recklessness should be applied.
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