Unlawful Act/Constructive Manslaughter

Involuntary Manslaughter//Unlawful Act Manslaughter

Special Study

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  • Created by: Vixxx92
  • Created on: 19-11-10 09:54

Involuntary Manslaughter

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)

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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 

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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)

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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

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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)

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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

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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)

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brief yet simple to follow

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