Actus Reus

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1. What is an act of a 3rd party?

  • Usually comes from medical negligence, however, it is unlikely to break the chain unless it is so patent in causing death that D's acts are insignificant - R v Smith
  • Where the act is of the victim, the chain of causation will not be broken unless the victim's actions are disproportionate or unreasonable in the circumstances - Roberts/Williams
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2. What is the thin skull rule?

  • Take your victim as you find him - R v Blaue, R v Hayward.
  • Leave your victim the same way - R v Brown, R v Haywire.

3. What is the general rule of omissions?

  • A person CANNOT be guilty of an offence if they fail to act - Stephen's Digest of the Criminal Law (3rd Ed. 1887)
  • A person CAN be guilty of an offence if they fail to act - Stone v Dobinson

4. What is a voluntary act?

  • Hill v Baxter - if D has committed the act or omission voluntarily, they do not have the mens rea.
  • Hill v Baxter - if the D has not committed the act or omission voluntarily, he has not committed the actus reus at all.
  • Collins v Wilcock - if D has committed the act or omission voluntarily they can not have the mens rea.

5. What is factual causation?

  • The defendant must be 'in fact' the cause of the consequence. R v White established the 'but for' test.
  • The defendant must be 'in fact' the cause of the consequence. R v Smith established the 'but for' test.
  • The defendant must be the cause in law of the consequence. R v White established the operating and substantial cause test.
  • The defendant must be the cause in law of the consequence. R v Smith established the operating and substantial cause test.

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