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CRIMINAL LAW FOR PROBLEM QUESTIONS GENERAL PRINCIPLES ACTUS REUS Voluntary act amounting to AR:
? If there was, then need to consider whether there was a novus actus or other event that broke the chain of causation.
? If not, then the broad rule is Deller : no crime has been committed, even if D did his best to commit a crime. Here, D tried to defraud V into buying a car (car was in fact unencumbered). o Consider also, that there may be an attempt (see bellow).
? In some cases there may be an omission. Did D commit a crime by omission? No general omissions liability (must be duty to act).
? Line between acts and omissions: can be hard to distinguish them. o Bland : B (brain dead after Hillsborough) was on life support. Could doctors turn it off? HL: yes, turning off machines is not an act: "absent a duty, the omission to perform what had previously been a duty will no longer be in breach of the criminal law." o Speck : child touches a man's penis. Man does nothing to remove hand. Was an act.
? My thoughts: cases show courts can use ambiguity to reach right moral conclusion. RL issue?
? First question: was there a continuing act?
o Fagan: D drove onto policeman's foot and left car there. Act (diving on to foot) was continuing.
? Second question: D under a duty to act? Categories: (i) statutory duty; (ii) law enforcement duty o (iii) contractual duty: Pitwood : operator of a gate over a train line did not shut gate. D guilty of manslaughter. o (iv) assumed duties: voluntary assumption of responsibility for another's welfare:
? Stone and Dobinson : S+D (both handicapped adults) took in F (S's sister). They neglected her. She died. Lane LJ: manslaughter conviction; they had assumed duty. Note: (i) D+S had assumed responsibility by attempting to care for her; (ii) unclear what role biological relationship between S and F was.
? Third question: if there was a duty, what was content of the duty? Herring: do what is reasonable in the circumstances. S+D left the objective/subjective question open.
? Fourth question: has D created a dangerous situation?
o R v Miller : M fell asleep with lit cigarette in mouth. Wakes up with mattress on fire. He walks away. HL: convicted of arson. Diplock: conduct for entire period relevant.
? Can be explained in terms of DC or continuing act. If a result crime, did D cause the required consequence? Causation
? R v Dalloway : D driving a horse and cart negligently. Killed V. But, would have happened anyway, so no conviction.
General starting point: causation is a matter of common sense: Bingham in Kennedy (No. 2): "Causation is not a single, unvarying concept to be mechanically applied without regard to context."
? But for / factual causation: o Hughes : H was driving (unlicensed) when V, on heroin, swerved across the road and collided with him. SC: H not guilty. Mere presence on the road was not an operating cause: "distinction between conduct which sets the stage for an occurrence and conduct which on a common sense view is regarded as instrumental in bringing about the occurrence." Shows that factual causation is too wide to be practical as a test / rule.
? Test: "operating and substantial cause." Smith o Substantial: must contribute to the end result --- not slight or trifling (see Cheshire). o Operating: no break in the chain of causation.
? Was there a break in the chain of causation? Four possible outcomes: (i) concurrent causes; (ii) novus actus; (iii) act of negligible effect; (iv) neither act caused death. o Novus actus:
? Leading case: Kennedy (No. 2) : K prepared a syringe of heroin for V, who injected himself. V died of an overdose. HL: V's decision to inject was a "free, deliberate and informed intervention"
? Element 1: free, deliberate and informed act:
? If not voluntary, no NA: e.g. A pushes B into C. A is responsible.
? Where B's actions are justified, won't be NA: Pagett : D used girlfriend (V) as a human shield. Police returned fire, killing V. Goff LJ: "if a reasonable act of self-defence against the act of the accused causes the death of X, we can see no reason why the act ... should relieve the accused from criminal responsibility." Minority reasoning in Gnango.
? B without knowledge of circumstances, won't be NA: e.g. postman delivering a bomb.
? Element 2: Must render A's contribution no longer operating and substantial cause:
? Smith : D stabbed V (soldiers). V was dropped twice on way to medical tent and received incorrect treatment. Lord Parker: no break in chain of causation. NA must render the first would "merely the setting" and no longer an "operation and substantial cause"
? R v Jordan : D stabbed V. V was almost healed when he was admitted to hospital and was given antibiotics. Had an allergic reaction and died. CA: medical treatment was NA. Medical treatment was grossly negligent. Case is exceptional.
? Cheshire : D shot V at a chip shop. During treatment, V suffered respiratory issues. Tracheotomy scar swelled, blocked windpipe, and V died. Gunshots had stabilised by this point. CA: only in most extreme cases will medical acts be an NA
--- must render D's acts "insignificant" in terms of causal potency. o Acts of the victim breaking the chain of causation?
? Roberts : R gave V a lift in his car. R made indecent suggestions. V jumped out of car. CA: test is whether "injury was the natural result of what D said and did, in the sense that it was something that could reasonably have been foreseen as the consequence of what he was saying or doing." For it to break chain of causation, V's
action must be 'so daft' or unexpected that no reasonable man would have foreseen it. In this case, V's act was NA.
? Williams and Davies : slightly modifies test: action must be "within the range of responses" expected from a V in that situation, bearing in mind any "particular characteristic of V" and fact that in the moment he could act "without thought or deliberation."
? Marjoram : court follow Roberts and emphasise that foreseeability of V's reaction was judged from the perspective of a reasonable person.
? R v Blaue : D stabbed a Jehovah's Witness. V refused a transfusion on basis of religious belief. D convicted of manslaughter. Lawton LJ: D cannot excuse himself by arguing V "could have avoided death by taking greater care of himself." Fits with eggshell skull rule.
? Reconciling Roberts and Blaue Blaue seems to be an application of the thin skull rule, whereas if the Roberts test were applied here the result might have been different because Blaue's reaction wasn't reasonably foreseeable. Suggested ways to reconcile them:
1. In Blaue, V's act was in effect an omission, whereas in Roberts it was an act. So, an omission won't break the chain of causation but an act might if it was unreasonable or 'daft'. This fits well into general approach of not criminalising omissions. S+S view.
2. Blaue was a special case, about freedom of religion. Normally the jury should consider whether V's response was reasonably foreseeable but here the court doesn't want to ask that because then jury would look at reasonableness of religious belief.
? Dear : D stabbed V after being told V had sexually assaulted his 12 year old daughter. D argued V had broken causation by reopening his wounds and refusing treatment. CA: wounds still an operating cause; different if they had completely healed and then V reopened.
? Hard to reconcile with Roberts: If V's reaction (whether by blowing his brains out or doing what he actually did) was (per Roberts) so "daft as to make it [V's] own voluntary act", the chain of causation is broken.
? See also, Dhaliwal  (see notes for murder / manslaughter): V committed suicide after a campaign of abuse; CA found there was sufficient causation (was foreseeable response).
? Thin skull rule: This Ds must take V as he find him: o Hayward : D chased his wife out of the house shouting threats at her. She collapsed and died. He did not physically touch her. She was suffering from a rare thyroid condition that could lead to death where physical exertion was accompanied by fright and panic. Both the D and W were unaware she had this condition. Ridley J: D caused wife's death. o NB: as confirmed in Blaue the thin skull rule applies to the person as a whole --- not just to the physical characteristics of the person.
? Natural event (Act of God): won't break the chain of causation if ordinary --- e.g. if D injures V and leaves his body on the sea shore and V drowns. However, if a freak of nature, this may break the chain of causation (V left on beach struck by lightening). MENS REA
Was Wasthe it the result result a virtually of the D's certain purpose?
result of D's actions and did D realize that the result was a virtually ce No
D has the necessary intention.
D does not have the necessary intention
Starting point (current law): Woolin: in most cases intention should be given its ordinary meaning --- in exceptional cases, the jury may find intention if a result was virtually certain to occur and the defendant realized it was virtually certain to occur.
? ? ? ? Core meaning of intention: ordinary meaning of the word o Moloney : M and S (his stepfather) got drunk at a wedding and argued over who could load and fire a gun more quickly. M loaded quicker and S challenged him to shoot. M fired wildly and killed S. M was convicted of murder. Lord Bridge: reduced to manslaughter. "The golden rule should be that ... the judge should avoid any elaboration or paraphrase of what is meant by intent" Unless absolutely necessary. Core meaning: D intends a consequence of his action if he acts with the aim / purpose of producing that consequence.
? ? ? ? Intention vs foresight: Foresight of a consequence is not the same as intention, but it is evidence from which a jury may infer intention. o Moloney: Bridge: "foresight of the consequence ... belongs, not to the substantive law, but to the law of evidence ... A man is presumed to intend the natural and probably consequences of his acts ... knowledge or foresight is material which entitles a jury to draw the necessary inference." o Hancock and Shankland : H+S (striking miners) pushed a concrete block off a road bridge, killing the driver of a taxi carrying a miner to work. They did not think they could hit the car (aimed at different lane). CA: D's guilty of manslaughter (no intent for murder).
? Intention vs motive: These are different: o Moloney: Bridge: A man who boards a plane to Manchester, desiring to escape capture in London, and indifferent to his destination, still intends to go: "By boarding the
Manchester plane, the man conclusively demonstrates his intention to go there, because it is a moral certainty that is where he will arrive." Motive is relevant as evidence of intent.
? Borderline cases of intent: Woolin test o Test: only used in unclear cases: (i) if death / GBH was a virtually certain consequence; (ii) D foresaw this was so. Then jury may infer intent.
? Woolin : W lost his temper and threw his 3-month-old son onto a hard surface, killing him. Issues was whether W had intention to cause serious harm. HL (Lord Steyn): courts should continue to use the Nedrick  model (test stated above). On this test the proper conviction in Woolin was for manslaughter. o Issues after Woolin:
? If the test is satisfied, must jury find intention or may they? Mirfield vs Sir John Smith debate. Important, because if Smith is right, and the jury must infer, then intention is legally foresight of virtual certainty.
?? ? ?Resolved in Matthews & Alleyne : M and A were convicted of murder. V was attacked after leaving a club and thrown off a high bridge into a wide river. J drowned. Evidence that J told M+A he could not swim. Issue was as to Woolin direction (substantive law or rule of evidence). CA: jury may find intent, but don't have to. However, in many cases satisfying the test would make the inference irresistible: o Questions over the first limb: the belief in virtual certainty is not enough, it must actually be a virtual certainty. Can have odd results: e.g. intention can't be proved because unbeknownst to a bomber, a plane has a device allowing it to land even if bomb goes off in hold. So Prof. Allen argues that we should only need to show that D foresaw the result as virtually certain. o Does Woolin only apply to murder? Hasn't been resolved yet --- only considered in murder cases.
?????Difficulties of Woolin test in case law: o Re A (Children) : conjoined twins (Mary and Jodie). Key question: do doctors have murderous intent because they appreciate the virtual certainty that M will die? CA: can't deal with this as an omission (definitely an act); Walker: not murder due to doctrine of necessity.
?????Intoxication and intent: see below: o Moloney : good example of how law operates: intoxication made M's story more believable to the jury. Evidence from which they could infer lack of intent. Crime of specific intent. Recklessness
?? ? ?Test: (i) D was aware there was a risk his conduct would cause a given result; (ii) risk was unreasonable one for D to take. Cunningham o Element 1: aware of the risk:
? Cunningham : C broke a gas meter (to steal money). Caused gas leak, endangering life. Byrne J: test is "whether D has foreseen that the particular kind of harm might be done and yet has gone on to take the risk." Note:
? Only need show D has foreseen a risk, not that he thought consequences were likely.
? Subjective, not objective test.
Stephenson : D (schizo) lit a fire in a haystack. Didn't realise risk due to condition. CA: D was not Cunningham reckless. Point is D didn't foresee risk, not whether he could have.
? Stretching Cunningham: Parker : P overslept on train. Tried to phone for taxi. Phone didn't work, so slammed down handset. Lane LJ: fined for criminal damage. Although P did not know there was some risk of damage, he knew phone was plastic and force he was using "he was, in effect, deliberately closing his mind to the obvious" since "damage was in the circs. inevitable." Enough if D commits: "a deliberate act knowing or closing his mind to the obvious."
? Looks like Caldwell through the backdoor. o Element 2: risk was unreasonable: requirement is rarely in dispute --- hard to be reasonable in taking a risk that could harm V. This requirement is objective.
? Intoxication and recklessness: D who is intoxicated at the time of the offence and therefore failed to foresee a risk which they would have foreseen if they had been sober will be treated as having foreseen a risk. D's can't therefore claim they failed to foresee a risk because they were drunk.
? Old law and reform: (i) D aware of risk; OR (ii) obvious and serious risk that D failed to consider. o Caldwell : D set fire to a hotel where he worked. Claimed he was so drunk it did not occur to him that people might be endangered. HL: guilty, above test applied. o Harsh test: Elliott v C : handicapped girl set fire to a garden shed; guilty of criminal damage as would have been obvious to a reasonable person. o Reform:
? G and R : two boys (11 and 12) set fire to newspapers under wheelie bin. Supermarket burned down. HL: Caldwell no longer good law. New subjective Cunningham approach applies
? Herring in order to avoid undesirable acquittals, we will see a lot of weight being placed on Parker (above) and the idea of a risk being in the back of a defendant's mind.Negligence
?? ? ?If D has behaved in the way in which a reasonable person would not, then he is negligent: this is an objective test --- D's actual state of mind is not relevant, rather did D behave in a way which was reasonable in the circumstances. Transferred mens rea:
?????Applies where D aims to harm X, but misses and harms V: o Latimer : two men fight in pub. D hits X, but blow glances off and hits V. HL: D guilty under transferred malice doctrine.
?????Need to distinguish between:
1. Same crime: D shoots at B, but instead hits V. Here D can be charged with V's murder because the MR (intention to kill B) can be 'transferred' --- i.e. because the AR is the same (both killing) and the MR is the same (intention to kill) there is both AR and MR.
2. Different crimes: D shoots at B, but instead breaks V's property. If D is charged with criminal damage, he cannot be convicted --- although we have the AR (the property has been damaged) there is not sufficient MR under the transferred malice doctrine (the MR is that of murder, not the MR of criminal damage). HOWEVER, D could still be
convicted of: (i) attempted murder; (ii) criminal damage, because he was reckless about damaging property. It's just that D is not guilty under the transferred malice doctrine.
3. Defenses transfer: D is being attacked by B and, in order to defend himself, throws a brick at B; B ducks and the brick hits V. Here D's MR to injure B transfers to V, but so does his defense (self-defense).
4. Mistake: D shoots V, who he believes to be B, his enemy. He is horrified to have killed V. Here D is just guilty of V's murder --- no need to go to transferred malice.
5. General malice: D shoots into a crowd, not caring who is killed, and V dies. Here the law relies on 'general malice' --- D can be convicted as if he intended to kill a specific V. See Lord Mustill's judgment in A-G's Ref (3/94) below.
? FOR EXAM PQs: there are always two crimes: (i) the attempt to commit the intended offence; (ii) the full offence involving the harm that occurred.
? Leading case: AG's Ref 3/94: D stabbed E (pregnant girlfriend). E recovered, but V was born prematurely and died. CA: D's intent to cause GBH (MR of murder) to E was transferred to V. HL: accepted that the doctrine of transferred malice is good law, but could not be applied because the foetus was not a person in the eyes of the law. D was convicted of unlawful act manslaughter. o Lord Mustill: General malice --- e.g. blowing up a plane is different: "the intention is already aimed directly at the class of potential victims of which the actual victim forms part." Coincidence of AR and MR
? ? ? ? General requirement: that AR and MR coincide in time. Three exceptions: The AR and MR are part of one transaction
? Thabo Meli : Ds thought they had killed V. Threw body off a cliff. PC: convicted of murder as all acts were part of 'one transaction' (earlier MR counted for later AR). o Reasoning extended below: in Meli all was part of a plan.
? Church : D knocked V unconscious. Mistakenly believed he had killed her. Threw her into a nearby river. CA: D convicted of manslaughter; MR (the punch) and the AR (throwing the V into the river) were part of the same transaction.
? Le Brun : D hit wife. Knocked her out. Dragged her away from scene, but dropped her causing death. CA: convicted of manslaughter: o " where the unlawful application of force and the eventual act causing death are parts of the same sequence of events, the same transaction, the fact that there is an appreciable interval of time between the two does not serve to exonerate the defendant from liability. o "On the other hand if he was trying to assist his wife, the chain of causation would have been broken and the nexus between the two halves of the prosecution case would not exist." Continuing act: Two situations:
1. It is a continuing act; so although the MR arises 'later' the AR and the MR coincide (because the AR is continuing). See Fagan.
2. D's failure to stop the harm he was causing amounted to a continuing omission (i.e. D had come under a duty to prevent it because he has caused the danger). Miller.
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