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Involuntary Manslaughter


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Involuntary Manslaughter
This crime needs an actus reus of an unlawful killing and a mens rea of either intention or recklessness. All 3 types of this crime have the same severity, ie one type isn't worse than any other.
Basic Intent Crimes (BIC)
"Green" crimes which must prove a mens rea of either unlawful intent or recklessness for liability.
Unlawful Act Manslaughter
A form of involuntary manslaughter which requires an unlawful, dangerous act which 'causes' death.
Test #1 for UA M/S
The defendant must commit an unlawful act.
R v Lamb
D and a friend V were playing with a revolver. In the chamber there were two bullets, but neither was opposite the hammer when D, as a joke, pointed the gun at V and pulled the trigger. The chamber rotated and V was killed. Since there was no mens rea for the crime available (as neither felt threatened) there was no crime. This case shows us there must be an unlawful act.
R v Franklin
D took a box off another man's stall and threw it off a pier into the sea, where it struck and killed V, a man swimming. Held that as this was a civil wrong, it wasn't viable for use in a criminal case.
R v Lowe
D, of low intelligence, failed to call a doctor when his nine-week-old child became ill, but claimed to have told his wife to do so, she did not do so and the child died 10 days later. Held that an omission can't be used as an unlawful act for UA M/S.
Test #1 for UA M/S Cases
Following cases are to be used selectively for a problem question, as each case has a different crime.
R v Larkin
The appellant waved a razor about intending to frighten his mistress's lover. He claimed his mistress, who was drunk, blundered against the razor and was killed when it cut her throat. Held - Conviction upheld. An unlawful act had been committed consisting of the assault against the mistress's lover.
R v Goodfellow
D wished to move out of his council house, but found himself unable to. So he set fire to it (as you do) and his wife, son and another woman died in the resulting fire.
Mitchell
Transferred malice. In this case a youth pushed into a post office queue, which consisted mainly of pensioners picking up their weekly payment. An elderly gentleman told the youth off. The youth pushed the gentleman over and he fell into an 83 yr old woman. The woman was taken to hospital with a broken limb where she subsequently died. D's charge for unlawful act manslaughter was upheld. (unlawful act - assault and battery)
R v Newbury and Jones
Ds were two teenage boys which pushed a paving stone off a bridge onto a passing train below, which killed a guard. Held - unlawful act M/S. Unlawful act wasn't specified, but criminal damage was assumed.
Test #2 for UA M/S
The unlawful act must have an objectively dangerous risk of causing 'some harm'. Introduced by the case of Church.
Church Test
Gives us the objective test for dangerousness. There must be a risk, which the reasonable man would perceive as causing 'some harm'. The word "some" makes it vastly easier for the prosecution.
R v Dawson
The two Ds robbed a petrol station using a pickaxe handle and a replica gun. After V (a 60 year old man with a severe heart condition) pushed the alarm the Ds fled and soon after V died of a heart attack. A reasonable man would not have believed V would have suffered harm at this point, and therefore the Ds were found not guilty of UA M/S.
R v Watson
D threw a brick through the window of V's house (an 87 year old woman suffering a severe heart condition) and entered it, confronted V and verbally abused her before leaving. She died 90 minutes later. It was held that the Ds didn't cause the death, but the council worker who came round afterwards did.
Test #3 for UA M/S
This test ensures that the defendant actually caused the death. If the chain of causation is unbroken (with the other tests passed), then D is liable for UA M/S.
CD Dr. K
An acronym for the names of 5 drugs cases, all disputing whether self-injection breaks the chain of causation. Kennedy finally came to the conclusion that self-injection will now break the chain of causation.
Kennedy
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.
Test #4 for UA M/S
The defendant has the correct mens rea required for the original unlawful act.
Gross negligence manslaughter
Causing death by breaching a duty of care in circumstances of gross negligence - the breach of duty must be so severe that it constitutes a criminal, as opposed to civil, matter.
Test #1 for GN M/S
Duty owed towards V. For example, a doctor owes a duty towards their patients due to a contractual obligation.
Adomako
Anesthetist didn't realise oxygen tube had been dislodged. Patient dies, D convicted of manslaughter - failed to meet expectations. Leading case for gross negligence manslaughter.
Donoghue v Stevenson
Gives us the 'neighbour principle' - neighbours are people who are affected by our acts or omissions, and we owe a duty of care to them.
Wacker
D was convicted of manslaughter for causing the death of 58 illegal immigrants in the back of his truck after he closed the only ventilation source. D's appeal was dismissed as he owed a duty of care to the victims.
Litchfield
D was the master of a ship which ran aground and killed three of the crew members in the process. D was charged with manslaughter on the basis that he knew the engines may fail due to fuel contamination. This breach of duty was serious enough to amount to gross negligence. On appeal, CA held that Adomako had been appropriately applied.
Singh
D managed a block of flats where one of the tenants died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The gas fires in many of the flats were unsafe, and there had been complaints from other tenants. Held: D had a duty of care.
Khan and Khan
Drug dealing brothers supplied heroin to girl who self injected - she collapsed, brothers left. Girl dies. Gross negligence manslaughter convictions quashed by CA as no duty of care in existence.
Test #2 for GN M/S
Duty of care breached. D is judged against the standard of a reasonably competent person performing the activity in question.
DPP v Andrews
D overtook a car and in the process struck and killed a pedestrian. He was judged against the standard of a reasonably competent driver and was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.
Bateman
D a doctor attended the confinement of a woman who died while giving birth. Held: Where a doctor is consulted, by or on behalf of a patient, he owes a duty to that patient to use due caution in undertaking the treatment. If he accepts the responsibility he owes a duty to the patient to use a fair and reasonable degree of diligence, care, knowledge, skill, and caution in administering the treatment.
Lord Hewart CJ on Gross Negligence Manslaughter
“…in order to establish criminal liability the facts must be such that, in the opinion of the jury the negligence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation between subjects and showed such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime against the state and conduct deserving punishment.”
Test #3 for GN M/S
Breach of duty is so grossly negligent that it constitutes manslaughter. Otherwise it is considered civil.
Reckless manslaughter
After Adomako it was unsure that this type of manslaughter still existed. However Lidar tells us that the judge was correct in referring to recklessness as opposed to gross negligence. Note that this type of manslaughter is subsidiary, and therefore should only be mentioned in passing when applying it to a problem question.
Lidar
D and others were kicked out of a pub. D was in the driver seat when one of the passengers shouted something at V (a bouncer). V approached the vehicle and put his arms through the open front passenger window. D drove off with V half in half out of the vehicle. After ~225 metres, V was dragged under the rear wheel of the car and suffered fatal injuries. CA upheld conviction for reckless manslaughter on appeal.