A more recent version of these Murder Voluntary Manslaughter 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:
Murder & Voluntary Manslaughter _______________________________________________________
Murder Principles & Reform Murder is a common law offence Age of D:
- Doli incapax (children 10-13) rebuttable presumption abolished by Crime and Disorder Act
- Criminal liability from 10 Timing of prosecution:
- Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996 abolished this rule due to medical advances
- However AG permission needed for 3+ years delay in death Mandatory life sentences:
- Home Secretary used to establish life sentences & then taken over by judicial discretion
- Now governed by S.269 Criminal Justice Act which stipulates 15 years starting point extended by aggravating factors S.1 Homicide Act abolishes felony murder rule (similar to unlawful act manslaughter but for murder) Law Commission's Draft Criminal Code:
? 1st degree - intention to kill
? 2nd degree - intention to bring about serious harm/recklessness - partial defences available to include duress
? 3rd degree - involuntary manslaughter These reforms have NOT be instigated (though loss of control & diminished responsibility have)
Actus Reus The unlawful killing of a human being
'Human Being' R v Malcherek (above) Held: they applied the brain stem death test by the Royal College of Physicians as the ending of life - at the time of death Vs were already dead thus meaning the doctors could not be the cause of death Ag Ref No. 3 of 1994 (above) Held: unlawful act affecting the unborn can evolve into unlawful act manslaughter if the foetus enjoys independent life from mother before death
? Sir John Smith: argued that this case could not be murder as there was no mens rea to kill/GBH a human being. However if the mens rea was to injure foetus with intent to bring about its death when born, this could amount to murder Separate claims for destroying of foetus: child destruction/unlawful abortion?
Enoch defines a human being as an independent existence from the mother Rance defines a human being as some kind of independence like use of own lungs
Mens Rea An intention to kill or cause serious harm (See actus reus & mens rea for applicable general principles)
Voluntary Manslaughter Unlawful killing of a human being with an intention to kill/GBH
+ loss of control (S.54(7) Coroners and Justice Act)
+ diminished responsibility (S.2(3) Homicide Act) i.e. murder + a specific defence which ranks the crime down Old Law: Provocation Historical genesis in defence where wife has committed adultery against murder of the lover, or against the murder of someone sodomising their child
It is a concession to human weakness (compare: duress) R v Lesbini
1. Was there loss of control (subjective)
2. Would a reasonable person have killed the victim as a result of the loss of control (objective) Before Coroners and Justice Act reforms, a number of pressing issues surrounding the doctrine:
? Provocation as an evidential question & if any evidence were raised it had to be left to the jury
? Homicide Act established that: o Words alone could be provocation o D's response did not have to be proportionate o 3rd party provoker could accede D to the defence
? Gender bias: o The Duffy Test stipulated that provocation had to give rise to a "sudden and temporary loss of self-control, rendering the accused so subject to passion as to make him or her for the moment not master of his or her mind" per Devlin J o R v Ibrams: planning stage extinguished provocation defence o R v Thornton: continuous abuse which led to a planned killing meant the delay did not satisfy the Duffy test. These women therefore had to go down the diminished responsibility route (where the burden is reversed) o R v Ahluwahlia: D poured petrol onto sleeping husband V and set fire to him. They had an arranged marriage and he had been abusive - the night before killing he had threatened a beating with an iron. Held: Duffy test was good law & the judge's direction with regards to the abuse would have been sufficient o R v Emma Humphreys Justice4Women organised legal appeal for Humphreys 7 years after conviction & succeeded on basis of provocation. Held: cumulative impact on the final loss of self-control moment o R v Baillie confirmed that the loss of control could last hours or days as long as the moment itself is within such a moment
? Which characteristics can be absorbed into the objective stage?
o R v Bede: sexual impotence was not considered as a part of the objective stage o R v Camplin: sex & age of D should be absorbed per Lord Diplock; internal factors cannot be absorbed which guide D's actions as this is diminished responsibility o Prof Ashworth: "individual peculiarities which bear on the gravity of the provocation should be taken into account, whereas individual peculiarities bearing on the accused's level of self-control should not" approved by PC in AG for Jersey v Holley - divided into 'response characteristics' and 'control characteristics'
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