Actus Reus- Causation

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  • Created by: Marie
  • Created on: 27-03-13 10:56

Where a consequence must be proved, then the P must show that:

  • The D's conduct was the FACTUAL CAUSE of that consequence,
  • That D's conduct was the LEGAL CAUSE of that consequence,
  • That there was no INTERVENING ACT which broke the CHAIN OF CAUSATION.

1. FACTUAL CAUSE= the D can only be guilty if the consequence would not have happened 'but for' his conduct. The 'BUT FOR' TEST can be seen in operation in PAGETT 1983- D used his pregnant girlfriend as a human shield against the police as he fired at them, and the girl was killed by police bullets. D was convicted on manslaughter, because, 'but for' D's actions, the girl would not have died. Opposite sitatution seen in WHITE 1910- D put cyanide in his mother's drink, intending to kill her. She died of a heart attack before she could drink it, so the D was not the factual cause of her death, and was not guilty of her murder, but of attempted murder.

2. LEGAL CAUSE= There may be more than one act contributing to the consequence, made by people other than the D. The rule is that the D can be guilty if his conduct was more than a 'minimal' cause of the consequence, but it need not be a substantial cause. In some cases it has been stated that the conduct must be more than DE MINIMIS. In KIMSEY 1996, the CofA held that instead of using this Latin phrase, it was acceptable to tell the jury it must be 'MORE THAN A SLIGHT OR TRIFLING LINK'. D was involved in a high-speed car chase with a friend, but she lost control of her car and the other driver was killed in the crash. The evidence about what happened before D lost control wa not very clear, and the trial judge directed the jury that D's driving did not have to be 'the principal, or a substantial cause of the death, as long as you are sure that it was a cause and something more than a slight or trifling link'. D's conviction for causing death by dangerous driving was upheld. The case shows that a D can be guilty even though his conduct was not the only cause of the death.

The 'thin- kull' rule- the D must take the V as he finds them. If the V has something unusual about his physical or mental state which makes an injury more serious, then the D is liable for the more serious injury. An example is BLAUE 1975- V was stabbed by D, and was told that she needed a blood transfusion to save her life but she refused as she was a Jehovah's Witness. She dies and the D was convicted of her murder. The fact that V was a JW made the wound fatal, but the D was still guilty as he had to take his V as he found her.

3. INTERVENING ACTS= There must be a direct link from the


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