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Factual causation
Also known as 'but for' test - 'but for' D's actions, V wouldn't have died = liability.
D used pregnant girlfriend as a human shield for police, started firing. When police returned fire, they shot girl and she died. 'But for' D's actions, V wouldn't have died, and therefore D was liable.
D was driving a horse and cart without holding the reins when a child ran in front of the cart and was run over and killed. D was charged with manslaughter and acquitted – death would have happened in exactly the same way if he had been driving with all due care.
D tried to poison his mother with cyanide she died of a heart attack.'But for' test failed in this case. D was convicted of attempted murder, however.
Legal causation
Who is morally blameworthy? Must be more than minimal, but not necessarily the biggest factor.
D involved in high-speed car chase with friend. Judge told jury there must be 'more than a slight or trifling link'. CA upheld D's conviction for death by dangerous driving.
Marchant and Muntz
D owned tractor with a grab for hay bales, consisting of 9 spikes (tynes) without a guard on, and was travelling down country road. V on motorcycle drives down country road on motorcycle at 80mph, and is impaled by one of the tynes. CA quashed D's conviction, as even if there was a guard, V would have been squashed rather than impaled going at that speed.
Soldier stabbed another soldier. V's medical treatment very poor and affected chances of recovery. D liable if injuries caused are still an operating and substantial cause.
No novus actus interveniens
No intervening act - nothing to break the chain of causation.
Final appeal in 2007 – D gave syringe of heroin to a man who self-injected and died. It was held that self-injection breaks the chain of causation.
D slashed V with a Stanley knife, severing an artery. V failed to do anything to stop the blood flow; it appears he took the opportunity to commit suicide. The jury convicted D of murder and the appeal was dismissed.
Young woman stabbed by D. V happened to be jehovah's witness and refused blood transfusion, subsequently dies. D convicted of murder as he had to take his victim as he found him.
Thin-skull rule
D must take their victim as they find them. For example, if V has an unusually thin skull and a blow to his head results in a more serious injury, D will be liable for the more serious injury.
D shot V. V required tracheotomy, but died because of complications from tracheotomy. Wounds had virtually healed. Held that medical treatment would only break the chain of causation if 'so independent' of D's acts, or if 'so potent' in causing death.
V was stabbed. When his wounds were almost healed he was given a large dose of a drug he was known to be allergic to. Chain of causation broken in this case.
D stabbed his wife. She was put on a life-support machine but when tests showed she was brain dead, machine was switched off. Switching off a life support machine doesn't break the chain of causation.
D randomly attacked a woman in the street, he battered her around the head with a large stone causing severe injuries. She was put on life support and never regained consciousness; life support was withdrawn 2 days later. This case was appealed together with Malcherek in 1991 both appeals against charges of murder were dismissed.
V was attacked by gang (including D). V taken to hospital suffering facial bruising and complained of chest pains. Died in hospital two days later. D tried to blame hospital for not giving V sufficient oxygen in time, and that he had developed pneumonia (medical cause of death). But D was convicted of manslaughter and CA upheld conviction.
D and others forced open V's hostel room door and burst into the room; V fell/jumped from the window and sustained serious injuries. D convicted of GBH.
D and another prepared syringes containing heroin and injected each other. The man D injected died - D caused the death, and was convicted of Unlawful Act manslaughter.
In 1957 the D who was a doctor was charged with murder of one of his patients who was terminally ill with an overdose of painkillers. Devlin J stated ‘if her life were cut short by weeks or months it was just as much murder as if it was cut short by years.’
D head butted and punched the victim before the V ran off with the defendant chasing him. The victim fell into the gutter and was run over and killed by a passing car.CA noted the V’s reaction were within the range of foreseeable reactions.
D cut the victim on the finger with an iron instrument. The wound became infected but the victim ignored medical advice to have his finger amputated resulting in lockjaw which killed V. Refusal of medical treatment does not break the chain of causation.
1865 D was in charge of railways workers and misread the timetable so the workers were on the track. Although he tried to alert driver several people were killed. Although several factors led to death D was convicted as the main cause.
V accepted lift off D. D drove in opposite direction to where she had specified she wanted to go, then stopped in a remote place and started making sexual advances. V refused and D drove off at speed. D continued making sexual advances and V jumped out of a moving car to escape D. Suffered cuts and bruises, D convicted of ABH - fright forms part of the chain of causation.