An unlawful killing where the defendant does not have the mens rea to kill or to cause GBH.
Different from voluntary manslaughter (where the defendant does have the mens rea to kill or cause GBH but can plead one of the defences to murder)
3 types: Unlawful Act/Constructive Manslaughter, Gross Negligence Manslaughter (and less significant, Reckless Manslaughter)
Definition of Unlawful Act Manslaughter
Also known as Constructive Manslaughter because liability can be 'constructed' from the following:
1. The defendant must have committed an unlawful act...
2. ...for which he has the mens rea.
3. The act must be dangerous on an objective test
4. The act must have caused death
Part 1: The Defendant must have committed an Unlaw
Must be a criminal Act
A tort or omission are not sufficient
Usually directed at a person, but can also be aimed against property (i.e. arson)
Part 2: For which he has the mens rea..
The defendant must have the mens rea for the unlawful act
It is not necessary to prove that he foresaw any harm from that act
Part 3: The act must be dangerous on an objective
As taken from R v Church (1966):
"the unlawful act must be such as all sober and reasonable people would inevitably recognise must subject the person to, at least, the risk of some harm resulting therefrom, albeit not serious harm"
The risk need only be some harm
It does not matter if the D did not foresee the risk (it is not a subjective test)
Part 4: The act must have caused death
Stating the obvious, but the D must have died as a result of that act
The chain of causation must remain unbroken
That's why the drugs cases, injecting each other, preparing the heroin etc, pose an issue
Cases in the OCR Special Study
The are the cases in the Special Study Paper for Jan 2011 that relate to Unlawful Act Manslaughter:
R v Church (1966)
R v Goodfellow (1986)
R v Kennedy (2007) - overruled R v Rogers (2003)
R v Cato (1976)