Criminal law : the basics by Jonathan Herring

By Jonathan Herring

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Indeed, they do not even need to have been shown to have foreseen that death or serious injury might result from their mistake. That case also shows that gross negligence manslaughter can be committed by an omission. Indeed, many cases of gross negligence manslaughter are committed that way. g. g. he or she was operating a piece of machinery in a dangerous way). It must be shown that the defendant breached the duty of care. This is a relatively straightforward concept. It means that the defendant must have acted in a way a reasonable person would not.

TRANSFERRED MENS REA The courts have developed the doctrine of transferred malice. It is designed to deal with cases of this kind: Martin shoots at Nicola, intending to kill her, but misses and kills Olive instead. In such a case Martin is regarded as having intended to kill Olive. He intended to kill Nicola, but the intention can be ‘transferred’ to Olive. ’ That is hardly an attractive defence! COINCIDENCE OF ACTUS REUS AND MENS REA To be guilty of a crime the defendant must have the mens rea and actus reus at the same time.

When his lorry reached England it was found that fifty-eight of those in the lorry had suffocated. The Court of Appeal held that he owed them a duty of care, even though they were engaging in an illegal enterprise together. The fact the victims had consented to him closing the ventilation was no defence to the crime of manslaughter. The jury were entitled to find that his breach of duty towards his passengers was so gross as to justify a criminal conviction. CAUSING OR ALLOWING THE DEATH OF A CHILD OR VULNERABLE ADULT As we saw in Chapter 1, generally a person is not liable for failing to rescue a person from danger, even the danger of death.

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