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Liability And Mistake Notes

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Leading case in transferred malice Latimer [1886] D swung his belt at a man whom he was quarrelling with - belt hit the face of a woman. Lord Coleridge stated if the malicious intent is present, it transfers to the injured party. Doesn't just apply to murder or intention; recklessness and other crimes can be transferred to other target. However, cannot have differing offences in actus reus and mens rea e.g. throwing a stone at a person but breaking a window = not guilty of criminal damage. Defences can be transferred e.g. self-defence if you kill someone else instead of the person attacking you - both intention and defence are transferred. Jeremy Horder suggested that there should be 'remoteness' or 'incompatibility' limitation if a) V was not the intended victim & b) V was killed in an unexpected way, unforeseen by the defendant e.g. D misses, bullet flies into a factory, factory blows up and kills V. Should this be rejected? It's uncertain; no limits; unnecessary sophistication because as in Mitchell [1983] "the criminality of the doer of the act is precisely the same whether it is A or B who dies" A-G's Reference (No.3 of 1994) D stabs gf in the stomach, knowing she is pregnant, 2 weeks later the child is born grossly premature and dies 4 months later. Held: found that "the intent to stab the mother (a live person) could not be transferred to the foetuses (not a live person)". Lord Mustill stated that the idea that a "wrongful act displays a malevolence which can be attached to any adverse consequence, has long been out of date" Bollom [2003] D charged with causing serious bodily harm after his 17-month old stepdaughter was found with circular bruises all over her body - D appealed against the seriousness of the injuries, and it was held that "serious" harm was agentspecific aka dependent on age/health etc...

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Generally, actus reus and mens rea must occur at the same time (contemporaneity), except in some circumstances: i. if the action is continuous e.g. Fagan (man refused to move car from policeman's foot) where continuous act matches later mens rea. ii. subsequent omission to remove accidental danger e.g. Miller (tramp accidentally set fire to mattress with cigarette; did not put out fire) iii. complex single transaction e.g. Thabo Meli (4 Ds hit V on head; believing him dead, they rolled him off a cliff where he later died) held to be murder. Only applicable to prescribed intent e.g. Church D knocked out V; believed her dead and threw her into river where she died =
manslaughter for lack of prescribed intent. See also Le Brun. iv. causation approach: mens rea precedes actus reus, concurrence can be circumvented by showing earlier action was the cause of death e.g. Mackinnon (NZ) D knocked V out, then manhandled him causing him a nosebleed; V chokes on blood and dies - D convicted of murder because he had to correct mens rea when he struck V. R v Thabo Meli [1954] Lord Reid: "it appears impossible to their Lordships to divide up what was really one series of acts in this way...the accused set out to do all these acts in order to achieve their plan"

"much too refined a ground of judgement to say that because they were under a misapprehension at one stage and thought that their guilty purpose was achieved before it was achieved, that they are to escape the penalties of the law" A-G's Reference (No.3 of 1994) D stabs gf in the stomach, knowing she is pregnant, 2 weeks later the child is born grossly premature and dies 4 months later. Lord Hope: "that act which caused the death and the mental state which is needed to constitute manslaughter need not coincide in point of time...[as long as] they are part of the same sequence of events" Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1969] "it is not necessary that the mens rea should be present at the inception of the actus reus, it can be superimposed on an existing act"

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