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  • Created by: Adeel
  • Created on: 25-01-12 16:51

Criminal Liability

Actus Reus


An involuntary act does not form the actus reus of a crime.

Hill v Baxter 1958

Crashed car charged reckless driving, but he was unconscious whilst driving.

Contractual duty created an omission.

Pittwood 1902

Left train crossing gate open, man was killed.

Person’s public position created liability for omission.

Dytham 1979

Man kicked to death, policeman watched (off duty).

Failure to minimise harm of a dangerous situation he created.

Miller 1983

Squatting in a house, started a fire and moved into another room.

Taking on responsibility for another person creates an omission.

Stone v Dobinson 1977

Anorexic sister needed medical help but they didn’t seek assistance – she died.

Acts of Parliament can create an omission.

Children and Young Persons Act 1933

Failure to look after a child creates an omission.


No factual causation – defendants act did not cause the consequence.

White 1910

Son tried to poison mother but she died of a heart attack.

Unusual result of the ‘but for’ test but logical.

Pagett 1983

Used girlfriend as a shield, she died from police guns.  

Legal causation – medical treatment was ‘palpably wrong’.


Man was stabbed, wound healed then was given wrong injection – died.

The original act was the operating and substantial cause of the consequence.

Smith 1959

Fighting soilders – stabbed and died hour later, poor medical treatment – died of blood loss.

Legal causation, actual cause of death wasn’t independent from the original act.

Cheshire 1991

Victim shot, died to complications from tracheotomy that hadn’t been spotted, could be a link.

Switching off the life machine did not break the chain of causation.

Malcherek 1981

Victim attacked, on life machine, doctors turned it off.


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