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Homicide Notes

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This is an extract of our Homicide document, which we sell as part of our Criminal Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.

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

Homicide

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Note: the law of homicide is one of the biggest downfalls of the English criminal law, in the opinion of many academics. It is in dire need of reform - much of the problem derives from the fact that governments need to be seen to be 'tough on crime' and they refuse to abolish the mandatory life sentence for murder. Homicide - human death attributable to the conduct (act or omission) of another person or people. It can be lawful or unlawful. Human Being: Note that life in English law begins at birth and that killing a foetus, no matter how long in term, is not homicide (AG's Ref No 3 of '94). However, a pre-birth injury can be the cause of a post-birth death if D intends that the child will die or be seriously injured at birth (Senior). Death: death must ensure from the action. Note that brain death is ipso facto death. The year and a day rule no longer applies, due to science. Queen's peace - no prosecution for killing war.

Causation

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Normal causation rules apply, but there is a tendency to want to put blame on a culpable party even if it might strain a principle. This is public policy at its best: o Pagett - D was using V as a human shield. He shot at armed police, who fired back and fatally wounded V. D was held liable for the death
- it was an instinctive reaction, and could be treated like a 'ricocheting bullet'. The act was not 'free, deliberate and informed'. o Kennedy (No 2) - settled that preparing a syringe for someone to self inject who then dies is not causation of death - their injecting is a novus actus interveniens. o Dhaliwal - V committed suicide after years of abuse by D. The death could be attributed to D. o Cheshire - novus actus must be so potent as to render D's action 'insignificant'. D's act was the cause to scarring caused by an operation which blocked and airway and killed V.

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Omissions: o There is a difference between killing and letting die. Only when there is an active duty, imposed or assumed, will there be liability for an omission e.g. Evans - D failed to get medical attention for her halfsister after injecting heroin. o Medical practitioners might be under a duty to preserve life but a court can relieve that duty if in the patient's best interests.

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