Murder, Manslaughter and Non Fatals

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The unlawful killing of a human being under the Queen's Peace with malice aforethought. 

Actus Reus 

  • 'Unlawful killing' - the defendant must have caused the death and it must be unlawful. 
  • 'Human being' - when a person can exist independently from it's mother. A foetus is not a human being. 

Mens Rea

  • Intention to kill or cause grevous bodily harm (R v Cunningham) 
  • Direct intent - the defendant wants the victim to die.
  • Oblique intent - where death or GBH is a virtual certainty of the defendant's actions (R v Woollin) 

Unlawful Act Manslaughter

Actus Reus 

  • There must be an unlawful act - has to be an act not an omission (R v Lowe)
  •  Has to be criminal not civil (R v Franklin) 
  • The unlawful act must be dangerous - whether a reasonable person would foresee that the act would cause harm (R v Church) 
  • R v Dawson - victim was 60 with a heart condition. The sober and reasonable person wouldn't know this so it wouldn't be dangerous.
  • The dangerous unlawful act must be the cause of the death
  • R v Johnstone - victim was subject to a series of taunts which led to stress which caused a heart attack. Defendant's couldn't be convicted as it wasn't clear whether they caused the heart attack.
  • R v Cato - question of whether those supplying drugs can be liablep

Mens Rea 
The means rea for this offence is the mens rea of the unlawful act

Gross Negligence Manslaughter

Duty of care

  • A duty of care is established under the 'neighbourhood principle' constained in Donoghue v Stevenson 
  • A few exceptions arose in R v Willoughby where it was held that there will almost always be a duty of care between a doctor and their patient 

Gross negligent breach of that duty 

Risk of death 

Non Fatal Offences Against the Person


  • Contained in s.39 Criminal Justice Act 1988
  • 'The defendant must intentionally or recklessly cause the victim to apprehend immediate unlawful personal violence'

Actus Reus 

  • The defendant must cause the victim to fear violence. This can be done by words, actions or both - even silence (R v Ireland)
  • Victim


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