Involuntary Manslaughter - Unlawful Act

  • Created by: erw16
  • Created on: 09-03-19 14:11

For the defendant to be guilty of unlawful act manslaughter, the defendant must do an unlawful act which is objectively dangerous, which caused the death and the defendant must have the mens rea for the unlawful act, as set out in the case of Larkin 1943.

First, we must establish that the defendant has done an unlawful act, which must be a criminal offence. In Franklin 1883 it was held that a civil wrong could not give rise to unlawful act manslaughter. In Cato 1976, the unlawful act was administering a noxious substance under s.23 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, the court upheld the conviction however, in R v Dalby 1982 it was held that the supply of a drug alone could not constitute manslaughter.

An omission is also not enough to give rise to unlawful act manslaughter as set out in the case of Lowe 1973, where an omission could not be regarded as an unlawful act. In Khan and Khan 1998, if they omit to get help, and the omission was not an act for the purpose of unlawful act manslaughter, then it is not an unlawful act.

Secondly, the act must be objectively dangerous. This was stated in the case of Church 1966, “such as all sober and reasonable people would inevitably recognize …the risk of some harm resulting … albeit not serious harm”. It does not matter that the defendant did not realise that there was any risk of harm to another person. The harm must also be physical.

The unlawful and dangerous act need not be aimed at the victim. It can be indirect and still result in an conviction for unlawful act


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