Before we start
This year is highly important and to be successful in law you are going to have to
work hard. There are a few things you can do in order to achieve success. The
questions you will be asked will require very similar responses within a specific area.
Good preparation will make the exam seem easier and if you have completed lots
of past papers with model answers which you have taken time to put together then
you will do well.
You need to know your cases. I will be doing lots of work in class in order for you to
remember these. You will be sick of me asking what happened in the case of Stone
and Dobinson. Anyone know?
Every week you will be given at least one piece of homework from me, this need to
be done and you should spend a minimum of 2 hours on this homework and
extended research around the area I am teaching. The areas that I will be teaching
you this year are as follows:
• Voluntary manslaughter
• Involuntary manslaughter
Mr Sharpe will be teaching you all other areas including the areas of Actus Reus and
Mens Rea which we looked at in detail last term.
In the space below write down Lord Coke’s seventeenth century definition of
murder. Make sure you remember this as you will be tested at the end of the lesson
and subsequent lessons.
Obviously a person can be charged with murder that the have committed in this
country. But murder is unusual in its jurisdiction as it also includes any murder in any
country by a British citizen. This means that if the defendant is a British citizen, he may
be tried in an English court for a murder he is alleged to have committed in another
Actus Reus of murder
There must be an unlawful killing and not one, for instance, in self defence. The killing
must be of a living human being and not, for instance, an unborn child. The killing
must not be of an enemy at a time of war.
The Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996 abolished the common law rule that
the victim must die within a year and a day of the injury. However, consent of the
Attorney General is required before prosecuting a person where (a) more than three
years have lapsed, or (b) the person has already been convicted of another offence
in circumstances connected to the death (eg, maliciously wounding or inflicting
The actus reus of killing can be done by an act or by an omission, but it must cause
the death of the victim. Usually in murder cases, the actus reus is an act. However in
some cases it can be as a result of an omission. This was so in the case of Gibbins and
Proctor 1918. Note down in the box below what happened in this case.
The next part of the lesson in on causation. Using pages 12-19 makes some notes in
the space below on causation to refresh your memory.
As murder is a result crime, the prosecution must establish causation. There are two
types. First of all, factual causation and secondly legal causation. Murder is the result
of a crime. The defendant cannot be guilt unless his act or omission caused the
death. In most cases there is no problem with this. For example. D shoots V in the
head, D is found guilty.
However in some cases there may be other causes of death such as poor medical
treatment. This type of situation raises questions of causation.
‘Reasonable creature in being’
This phrase basically means human being. So, for a
murder, a person must be killed. This may seem
straight forward, unless:
• Is a foetus in the womb a ‘reasonable
creature in being?
• Is a victim still considered to be alive if they
are ‘brain dead’ but being kept alive by a
A homicide offence cannot be charged in respect
of a foetus. The child has to have an existence
independent of the mother in order to be
considered a ‘creature in being’. This means that it
must have been expelled from her body and have
independent circulation. See the Attorney-
General’s reference (No3 1994) opposite, as
additional information. More detail on this case
can be found in the newspaper article on the
It is not certain whether a person who is brain-dead would be considered a
‘reasonable creature in being’ or not. Doctors are allowed to switch off life support
machines without being held liable. It is possible that courts may decide that if
someone switches off a life support machine, not as a medical decision but
intending to kill the victim, could be guilty of murder.
Year and a day rule
Using your prior knowledge and research make notes in the box below to show your
understanding of the ‘year and a day’ rule.
Fatal attack on unborn child 'can be murder case'
Saturday, 25 November 1995
A man who stabbed his pregnant girlfriend, ultimately causing the death of their baby daughter,
could have been tried for murder, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor, ruled yesterday.
The Attorney General, Sir Nicholas Lyell, had asked judges in the Court of Appeal to rule in a test
case that the man had committed either murder or manslaughter. However, Lord Taylor immediately
allowed yesterday's ruling to go to the House of Lords because of its importance to the law.
He emphasised that his decision would not have any implications for doctors carrying out abortions.
Simon Hawksworth QC had argued at the hearing that no offence could be committed against a child
who, at the time of the attack which later caused its death, was as yet unborn and therefore not
legally recognised as "a person in being".
He warned the appeal judges that to uphold the Attorney General's case would "open up a very
difficult area" in relation to late abortions and the delivery of live foetuses which are then allowed to
But Lord Taylor, sitting in the Court of Appeal with Mr Justice Kay and Mrs Justice Steel, said in
his judgment: "A doctor who carries out an abortion in accordance with the Abortion Act 1967 is not
acting unlawfully and hence, were such a doctor to be charged with murder, the charge would fail
because the element that the act must be unlawful could not be made out."
The woman victim was stabbed during a drunken row and gave birth three months prematurely. Her
baby, which bore a stab wound in her abdomen, died four months later.
Two years ago, her boyfriend was acquitted of murdering the child on the directions of a judge at
Leeds Crown Court.
The man, sentenced to four years in jail for wounding the woman, has not been named at the Court
of Appeal and yesterday's ruling cannot affect his acquittal on the murder charge.
However, a new point of law has been formulated which will mean that anyone causing unlawful
injury to a foetus or a pregnant woman which eventually causes the death of the child may face
manslaughter or murder charges.
In their conclusions yesterday, the judges ruled: "Murder or manslaughter can be committed where
unlawful injury is deliberately inflicted either to a child in utero or to a mother carrying a child in
"The requisite intent to be proved in the case of murder is an intention to kill or cause really serious
bodily injury to the mother, the foetus before birth being viewed as an integral part of the mother."
Lord Taylor allowed the case to be referred to the House of Lords after Andrew Lees, junior counsel
for the man in the Leeds trial, said the judgment was "a matter of great public importance with far
"It does widen protection to the unborn child, not only to charges of murder and manslaughter but to
charges of unlawful violence. It should be decided by the House of Lords because it is a redirection
‘Under the Queen’s peace’ means that the killing of an enemy in the course of a
war is not murder. However, the killing of a prisoner of war would be sufficient for the
actus reus of murder.
the killing must be unlawful. In the box below list down some of the reasons why the
killing of another may be deemed as not unlawful and therefore could not be found
guilty of murder.
An interesting case in which the killing of one person was thought to be justified is Re
A (children) (Conjoined Twins) (2000).
In deciding whether the force used was reasonable, the fact the defendant had
only done what he honestly though and instinctively thought was necessary in a
moment of unexpected anguish is very strong evidence that the defensive action
taken was reasonable.
In looking at the circumstances, the defendant must be judged on the facts as he
genuinely believed them to be. This is so, even if the defendant was mistaken about
the true facts. This rule is illustrated by Beckford (1988).
The amount of force used to defend oneself or another must be reasonable in the
circumstances. If excessive force is used the defence will fail as shown by the case of
In 1999 the case was quashed due to new forensic evidence casting doubt on
whether the fatal shot had actually been fired by Clegg.
Another case in which it was deemed that the level of force used was not
reasonable was Martin (Anthony( (2002).
So the rules on when use of force can justify the defendant’s actions are as follows:
• The defences of self defence of another/prevention of crime are defences
which justify D’s actions so that he is held not to have acted unlawfully
• The force used must be reasonable in the circumstances
• The circumstances include what D genuinly believed to be the situation. This is
so even if that belief was mistaken or unreasonable, provided the jury accepts
that D genuinly believed it.
• However, a personality disorder which affects D’s perceptions of the situation
cannot be taken into account.
• The amount of force must not be excessive in the circumstances as D believed
them to be.
Profile: UK serial killers
As the bodies of five dead women are found in Ipswich, Suffolk, within two weeks,
fears are growing that a serial killer is on the loose.
How does this compare to past serial killers in the UK?
PETER SUTCLIFFE: THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER
Through the late 1970s and early 80s, women in the north of
England feared a killer known both as the Yorkshire Ripper and
The killer, who it later emerged was a Bradford man called Peter
Sutcliffe, is serving life for the murders of 13 women in West
Yorkshire between 1975 and 1981.
Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe was
Sutcliffe, now 60, also carried out attacks on seven other women jailed for life in 1981
during that period.
It is not known what sparked his attacks.
Sutcliffe, who struck in Yorkshire and Manchester, claimed at his trial that he had heard "voices
from God" telling him to go on a mission to rid the streets of prostitutes.
The case only came to the attention of the national press in June 1977 when Sutcliffe claimed the
life of Jayne MacDonald, a 16-year-old shop assistant who was not a prostitute.
The killings put a great deal of pressure on the West Yorkshire Police murder team.
However, the inquiry was thrown off course after three letters and a tape were sent to the
investigation team by a man who was to be nicknamed Wearside Jack due to his strong
The man, whose actions disrupted the investigation, was later found to be a hoaxer.
Sutcliffe was sent to Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight, but was later transferred to
Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire in 1984 after a fellow inmate at Parkhurst jail slashed him
with a broken coffee jar.
During his time in prison, Sutcliffe has been attacked a number of times.
In 1997, he was attacked by a fellow patient at Broadmoor, Ian Kay, who stabbed him in both
eyes with a pen. Sutcliffe lost the sight in his left eye as a result of the attack.
Sutcliffe remains at Broadmoor secure hospital.
FRED AND ROSE WEST
On New Year's Day 1995 Fred West took advantage of a break in his suicide watch to tie some
material to a prison door and hang himself at Winson Green prison in Birmingham.
He had been awaiting trial for 12 murders.
The deaths included those of his daughter Heather, 16, and eight-year-old stepdaughter
Charmaine was murdered and buried under the ground floor of the house he shared with his wife,
Rose, 20 years before being discovered in 1994.
Nine bodies were found buried beneath the couple's house in
Cromwell Street, Gloucester.
Their victims were a mixture of hitch-hikers, lodgers and teenage
runaways who had been either lured to Cromwell Street or
He and his wife sexually abused their victims before killing them.
Fred West killed himself in prison
In October 1995 Rose West was tried at Winchester Crown Court for ten murders - the two others
that her husband had been accused of pre-dated their relationship.
She was found guilty on all ten counts by unanimous decision and was jailed for life.
The home secretary has since told her that she will never be allowed out.
There continues to be speculation that Fred West claimed more victims and buried them
somewhere in Gloucestershire.
Britain's worst serial killer Harold Shipman was jailed in 2000 for killing 15 of his female patients.
However, a public inquiry later decided the 57-year-old doctor had killed at least 215 patients
over 23 years.
Shipman, who committed his crimes while working as a trusted
family GP in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire, hanged
himself using bedsheets in his prison cell in January 2004.
It means the true extent of his crimes may never be known.
During his three-month trial Shipman never admitted responsibility
for his crimes, nor hinted at a motive or expressed remorse.
Shipman's crimes first came to light in 1998 when he made a
Harold Shipman is considered to be the
clumsy attempt to forge the £386,000 will of one of his victims, UK's most prolific serial killer
81-year-old Kathleen Grundy.
Her daughter Angela Woodruff became suspicious after her mother's death and alerted police.
It soon became clear that the doctor entrusted to care for his patients was in fact murdering
them, mostly by injecting them with fatal doses of diamorphine.
Shipman preyed on vulnerable people, usually choosing women living alone as his victims, who
may have been elderly but were not seriously ill.
The killer jab was often administered on home visits.
His oldest victim was a 93-year-old woman and the youngest a 41-year-old man.
Shipman was given 15 life sentences in 2000 for murdering 15 patients by administering fatal
doses of diamorphine and also found guilty of forging Mrs Grundy's will.
But the public inquiry heard a fuller account of the number of victims who died at his hands.
Of the 215 victims, 171 were women and 44 were men.
IAN BRADY AND MYRA HINDLEY: THE MOORS MURDERERS