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R v Lamb

[1967] 2 QB 981

Case summary last updated at 11/01/2020 15:15 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Lamb

The defendant had been joking around with his friend and fired a gun at him, thinking that neither of the two bullets would be fired since they were either side of the striking pin. It was agreed that this was an accident. The judge directed that it is manslaughter if death results from “an unlawful and dangerous act” on behalf of the accused,” and secondly it is manslaughter if death results from “an extreme degree of carelessness, negligence, on the part of the accused.” The jury convicted saying that both grounds had been satisfied. CA quashed the convictions, saying that the first ground was unfulfilled because: mens rea is an essential ingredient, without which there can be no assault and here there was clearly no mens rea. The second ground is correct in law (that criminal negligence can allow a manslaughter conviction) but the defence that this was an understandable accident was never put to the jury, despite its credentials in showing how the act may not have been so negligent. 

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