Criminal Law Case Study

1892 words - 8 pages

The offence Harry would be charged with is William’s murder. The area of Law that this case is concerned with is criminal law (homicide). The two offences that constitute homicide are murder and manslaughter. The classic definition of murder was set by Sir Edward Coke (Institutes of the Laws of England, 1797). Murder is defined by the Law as causing the death of a human being within the Queen’s peace with the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm. It comprises of 2 elements. These are the actus reus (guilty act) and the mens rea (intention).
The actus reus and causation are the first elements that need to be satisfied. The defendant, Harry in this case must be proved to have caused the victim’s death. In this instance two matters need to be considered. Whether the defendant in fact caused the victim’s death and if so, if it can he be held to have caused it in the eyes of the law. Regarding causation in law, in R v Smith [1959] 2 QB 35 it was held that ‘the defendant’s act would be regarded as the cause in Law, if it could be shown that it was the operating and substantial cause of death,’ which we see here. It is clearly illustrated that Harry in fact, caused William’s death instantly by driving the lemon slicer into his heart. According to the Court of Appeal in R v Pagett (1983) 76 Cr App R 279 and R v Cheshire [1991] 1 WLR 844 the issue of factual causation is mainly one for the jury once it has been determined by the courts that there is enough evidence to be left to them and this can be established through the ‘but for’ test. However there appears to be no issues regarding causation in this case because William’s death is caused instantly by Harry.
The burden of proof lies with the prosecution and in criminal proceedings, the standard of proof is ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’, however the defendant must raise sufficient evidence as outlined in s.54 (5) of The Coroners Justice Act 2009, and this is confirmed in R v Miao [2003] All ER (D) 218 Nov and R v Acott [1997] 1 WLR 306. It is also a question for the trial judge whether this evidence is sufficient s.54 (6). In order for the mens rea of murder to be satisfied, the prosecution has to establish that the accused intended to cause grievous bodily harm or intended to kill, as directed in R v Moloney [1985] AC 905 and confirmed in R v Hancock [1985] UKHL 9. Murder is a crime of specific intent. Intention in this context includes intent that is oblique or direct. Where the defendant desired the death, it is regarded as direct intention. Oblique intent covers the situation where the defendant foresees death as virtually certain, although not desired for its own sake. R v Woollin [1999] AC 82.’(E-Law Resources) Although difficult to establish, the facts of the case lean towards a direct intent, because it appears as if the consequence desired is to kill William.
It was held by the Court of Appeal in R v Vickers [1957] 2 QB 664 that a defendant could be convicted of murder if it...

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