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Crime XXXXXXV - Involuntary Manslaughter XI

It is also easier to establish gross negligence manslaughter in instances where the defendant owes the victim a duty of care and death resulted from a failure of the defendant to comply with that duty of care.
For example, a train driver or even a bus driver for the matter, owes his or her passengers a duty of care to ensure that the train or the bus is driven in the manner that is prescribed by the law and that all the safety requirements are complied with.
In R v Singh (1999) the landlord left his son in charge of his property in Ipswich while he was away and during that time one of the tenants died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The defendant was convicted and the defense appealed.
The conviction was upheld. The defendant owed the victim a duty of care to ensure that the amenities on his property were in good working order and a failure to do so had led to the death of the victim.
In R v Bowles and Bowles (2000) (Corporate Manslaughter) the defendants were owners of a haulage company. T…

Crime XXXXXXIV - Involuntary Manslaughter X

With regards to manslaughter charges brought against a corporation for the conduct of its employees for example when the driver of a train drives too fast and as a result a number of passengers that were on board the train lose their lives in an ensuing accident, in order to convict the driver or the members of the corporation responsible for ensuring the safety of the passengers, the prosecution needs to establish 1) gross negligence and 2) that the gross negligence can be attributed to someone in the corporation as opposed to the corporation itself.
In A-G's ref no 2 of 1999 (2000) the defendant, a rail operator, was charged with manslaughter, following a train accident in which 7 passengers lost their lives. During the trial it became evident that despite the driver being an experienced driver, relevant safety procedures were not observed and it was the lack of compliance or the inability to comply with the stipulated safety procedures at that time, that had caused the accident.

Crime XXXXXXIII - Involuntary Manslaughter IX

When a person is in charge of a group of people or appointed to be in charge, he or she had to take reasonable steps to ensure that those that are under his or her care are not exposed to an unnecessary  or an unwarranted risk and a failure to do so may result in a conviction for manslaughter.
In R v Litchfield (1998) the captain of a ship who took an unsafe route and relied too heavily on his engines despite knowing that the fuel that was used to operate the engines was contaminated was convicted of manslaughter when the ship capsized off the Cornish coast and three crew members died as a result.
It is an offence to negligently endanger a ship under s. 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 which regulates conduct with regards to endangering ships, structures or individuals. The section reads as follows: -
58 (1) This section applies— (a) To the master of, or any seaman employed in, a United Kingdom ship; and (b) To the master of, or any seaman employed in, a ship which— (i) Is registered un…

Crime XXXXXXII - Involuntary Manslaughter VIII

Medical staff for example aestheticians can be convicted of manslaughter if they are found to be grossly negligent in their work and if their negligence has led to the death of a patient.
In R v Adomako (1994) the accused was an aesthetician who was in charge of administering anesthetics during an operation. While in surgery an oxygen pipe got disconnected and the patient died from the resulting complications. The accused was charged and convicted for manslaughter. The accused appealed.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the conviction but the House of Lords, on further appeal, upheld the conviction on the grounds that the cause of death was not recklessness but gross negligence in breach of a duty.
R v OLL Ltd (1994) (also known as the Lime Bay canoe disaster) (Corporate Manslaughter) the company sent a group of students into the sea, during rough weather, when conditions were harsher than normal, and as a result the canoe capsized and four of the students drowned. The defendant, the managin…

Crime XXXXXXI - Involuntary Manslaughter VII

Earlier on under constructive manslaughter or unlawful act manslaughter we had established that a defendant cannot be convicted for constructive manslaughter or unlawful act manslaughter if the death that occurred was the result of an omission i.e. a failure to comply with a duty imposed by either common law or statute. That however does not mean that the defendant would not be guilty of reckless manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.
In Harris & Harris, R v (1993) the defendants, the parents, refused to allow doctors to treat their daughter with insulin. The child suffered from diabetes and the child died as a result. The parents were found guilty of manslaughter.
Parents have a duty to act responsibly when it comes to making decisions with regards to their children and a failure to do so or to act in accordance with the duties imposed by either common law or statute may compel the courts to impose some form of sanctions on the parents.
A failure to act in the manner that most pe…

S.18 and S.20 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861) (Summary)

The offences of wounding and causing GBH (grievous bodily harm) are to be found in S. 18 and S. 20 of the Offences Against Person Act (1861). The sections read as follow: –
S. 18 “Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously by any means whatsoever wound or cause any grievous bodily harm to any person, . . .  with intent, . . .  to do some . . .  grievous bodily harm to any person, or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer of any person, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable . . .  to be kept in penal servitude for life . . .”
S. 20 “Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously wound or inflict any grievous bodily harm upon any other person, either with or without any weapon or instrument, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable . . .  to be kept in penal servitude . . .”
Between the two, S. 20 is the lesser offence and S. 18 is the more serious offence and an offender if convicted under S. 1…

Crime XXXXXX - Involuntary Manslaughter VI

In R v P & O European Ferries (Dover) (1991) (Corporate Manslaughter) we look into the possibility of holding a company responsible for the reckless act(s) of its employee(s) which subsequently leads to the death of those who have entrusted the company with their lives (corporate manslaughter). The captain of a ferry and five of his crew members failed to close the main loading doors on a cross-channel ferry and as a result a few hundred passengers lost their lives.
The first question we need to ask was why an action was brought in criminal law and not in tort (civil law), where the chances are higher that compensation would be paid out for example see Ward v Tesco Stores Ltd (1976) (physical injury) or Barrett v Ministry of Defense (1995) (loss of life)?
Secondly, does vicarious liability (a legal doctrine that imposes a liability on another by virtue of a legal relationship or a special relationship with the tortfeasor (the person who committed the tort)) extend to criminal law? T…

Crime XXXXXIX - Involuntary Manslaughter V

In R v Seymour (1983) the accused had a heated argument with his girlfriend and subsequently, according to him, tried to push or force her car out of the way with his eleven-ton lorry. The victim got out of the car but was crushed between the car and the lorry. The accused was charged and convicted of manslaughter.
It was held that, with regards to death that is caused by reckless driving, the test that is to be applied is the test in R v Lawrence (1981) i.e. the question that was to be asked was whether the defendant was driving in a manner that gave rise to an obvious and serious risk and whether the defendant gave any thought to the risk or having given it some thought dismissed it. However, the risk that is caused by the manner in which the defendant is driving must be very high.
In Kong Cheuk Kwan v The Queen (1985) (Privy Council) the appellants were drivers of two hydrofoils that collided in perfect weather and resulted in the loss of lives. It was decided that the test that was …

Crime XXXXXVIII – Constructive Manslaughter XVII – Mens Rea II

With regards to the mental element or mens rea that needs to be satisfied in order to establish or obtain a conviction for constructive manslaughter or unlawful act manslaughter all the prosecution needs to do is to establish that there was an intention to commit an unlawful act i.e. that the defendant intended to commit the unlawful act.
There is no requirement for the defendant to foresee that some harm may result from his or her actions. Let’s revert back to the example of throwing stones through the shop window we gave earlier. It is sufficient that the defendant intended to throw stones through the shop window.
If one of the stones goes through the glass window, knocks over a lit oil lamp and subsequently starts a fire and two workers that are sleeping in the shop at the time die as a result, the defendant has satisfied the mental element or mens rea required to establish or convict for constructive manslaughter or unlawful act manslaughter regardless of the fact that the defendant…