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R v Blaue

[1975] 3 All ER 446

Case summary last updated at 13/01/2020 15:30 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Blaue

Summary of facts:  Blaue stabbed a Jehova’s witness and she refused to have a blood transfusion because of her beliefs and subsequently died. 
·       Quotes the trial judge as saying that “only if the second cause [refusal to have transfusion] is so overwhelming as to make the original wound merely part of history can it be said that death does not flow from the wound”. 
·       “those who use violence on other people take their victims as they find them…the whole man, not just the physical man” 
·       “the fact that the victim refused to stop this end [death] coming about did not break the causal connection between the act and death”. 
  • The judge is right to say that victims are taken as found, since otherwise only murderers of people with average characteristics can be convicted, which is clearly unacceptable. Supposing someone irrationally decided not to call an ambulance after being stabbed- does that mean that a murder hasn’t occurred? Everybody has a thought process and a way they react to situations, which is as much a part of their nature as their physical characteristics- it’s all part of the same person. Therefore the prosecution claiming that the victim’s reaction was unreasonable was no more logical than objecting to someone having weak bones or an unreasonably thin skull. Where does the duty to protect one’s own life come from anyway? As a matter of policy it is also wise not to restrict the liability of violent criminals as this could create loopholes for people to escape judgement. 
  • The physical cause of death was a stab wound. Despite the fact that the victim aggravated the situation, her refusal to have a blood transfusion did not cause the wound and did not stop the wound from being a cause of death.  The stabbing is therefore still operative since no more relevant actual action has contributed to death.

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