Murder is, the unlawful killing of another human in being, within the Queen's peace, with Malice Aforethought. - Lord Coke
The Actus Reus for murder is the unlawful killing of another human being or to cause GBH.
The Mens Rea for murder is specific. (this means only intention) The intention to kill or to cause GBH.
Who does the law class as a 'human being'?
Those that the law does not class as a human being are;
- Those that are 'brain stem dead'
- A foetus - however if sustained injuries in the womb, then died of injuries after birth, could still be victim of murder
The Actus Reus could also take place as an omission;
If the defendant has a duty of care owed to another person and a person fails to carry out that duty of care and death occurs, then the Actus reus of murder may exist.
- The relationship between a parent and a child - as in the case of R v Gibbons and Proctor, when the child was starved to death
- A duty taken up voluntarily (such as looking after an elderly relative or a child) Stone v Dobinson
- And that of an accidental creation of a dangerous situation and failing to attempt to correct the situation such as in R v Miller 1983 - noone died in this case but the defendant was still found criminally liable.
There are two types of intent, Direct-when the defendants aim is to kill the victim, and Oblique-when death is foreseen by the defendant as a virtual certainty. A case to illustrate Oblique intention is DPP…