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Murder Notes

GDL Law Notes > GDL Criminal Law Notes

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A more recent version of these Murder notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Criminal Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Criminal: Murder
- Definition (common law): unlawful homicide with malice aforethought.

AR: unlawful killing of RPIB under the Queen's peace (Coke).

- Unlawful: not self-defence, lawful execution, war.

- Killing.

1. factual causation: 'but for' test (White).

2. legal causation: operating + substantial cause (Pagett: enough that 'contributed signif icantly'; Smith). substantial: more than de minimis (Cato; Kimsey: 'more than slight or trif ling link'). must be caused by d's culpable act (Dalloway; Marchant). need not be sole cause (Benge). operating: novus actus interveniens? (Malcherek & Steel) medical negligence: v. rarely breaks chain Smith: only if 2nd wound so important that original wound 'merely part of history'; Cheshire: negligence 'so independent' + 'in itself so potent' as to cause death. intervention by victim. thin skull rule: physical/psychological abnormalities NOT break chain (Hayward: fear + exertion; Blaue: Jehovah's witness refuses transfusion) refusing medical treatment: NOT break chain if original wound still operating + substantial cause (Holland). fright + flight: foreseeable acts WILL break chain; reasonable acts will NOT.

Mackie: child fleeing from abuse foreseeable. Roberts: WILL break chain if 'so daft/unexpected' as to be unforeseeable (jumping from car to escape sexual advances). test: Williams & Davis:

1. reasonably foreseeable that some harm would result from d's action?

2. v's reaction in range that might be expected in situation (taking into a/c characteristics + 'agony of the moment')?
application unclear: just d's state of knowledge or all v's chars?
suicide: WILL break chain if done for reason other than attack on v; will NOT if original wound caused death, e.g. reopened (Dear: if injuries by d. operating + signif icant cause of death). N.B. Kennedy [2007, HoL]: voluntary + informed act of v. WILL break chain (injecting drugs supplied by d.) intervention by 3rd party: WILL break chain if 3rd party act 'free, deliberate + informed' (Pagett: police firing in self-defence not voluntary).

- Reasonable person in being (RPIB): must be live human being (Poulton: not unborn child).

- Under the Queen's peace: not in course of war.

MR: intention to kill or cause GBH (R v Vickers).

- Intention.

1. direct intent: no elaboration needed: ordinary meaning - subjective aim/purpose (Maloney). motive irrelevant (Chandler v DPP): immediate intent relevant, not overall end.

2. oblique intent: (N.B. possible only in specif ic intent crimes: i.e. not where recklessness alternative MR).

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