Homicide - Murder. Actus Reus. Unlawful Killing (AO2 opportunity). Some killings may be lawful i.e. self defence or in prevention of crime Also some may be authorised i.e. War or state execution (NOT UK!!). Causation.
Unlawful Killing (AO2 opportunity) Some killings may be lawful i.e.self defence or in prevention of crime Also some may be authorised i.e. War or state execution (NOT UK!!)
Causation In paragraph 1 – always include comment on rules of causation. Reasonable chance that AQA will include a possible intervening event. Cause in Fact – But for test R v White (AO2) Cause in Law – D need not make the only contribution, nor be the main cause of death – he must make a significant contributionOR operating and substantial cause– R v Cheshire (AO2) Look at past papers and identify any possible causation issues – easy marks!!!
A reasonable creature in being Foetuses and brain dead at two extremes Foetus – only in being when expelled from mother’s body, no decision yet on umbilical cord If injured inside, survives until born then dies = liability AG’s Reference (No. 3 of 1994) (1997) (Verdict likely to be manslaughter though).
Attorney-General's Reference (No.3 of 1994)  HL Murder – actus reus - transferred malice etcD stabbed child's mother whilst pregnant. Child lived for only 121 days. Her premature birth was caused by the injuries that her mother received when the defendant stabbed her. On his own admission D intended to cause the woman grievous bodily harm. So the mens rea for murder was present, if the death of the mother had been the result of his act: Held: Where a child is born alive, and dies later from injuries inflicted while in utero. - Murder – No/Manslaughter - Yes. If the child dies because of injury to the mother rather than injury to the foetus Murder – No/Manslaughter – No D could be guilty of manslaughter, but not murder (no intent towards the child).
A reasonable creature in being Doctors can switch off life support machines If do they are not liable Therefore brain dead is not a reasonable creature in being Malcherek and Steel (1981) confirm this point
R vMalcherek & Steel,  CA Murder – actus reus -cause of death must be operating and substantial D stabbed his wife who was taken to hospital and put on a life support machine. She suffered two heart failures and after ten days had irretrievable brain damage. The doctors switched off the machine. Held: The doctors' decision did not break the chain of causation; D's act could be regarded as the cause of V's death. Guilty murder
Causation Covered extensively in lesson on causation Need to prove direct and unbroken link between D’s act and criminal consequence Factual and legal causation required Factual – death would not have happened but for conduct of D Legal – operating and substantial cause If chain of causation broken no liability for homicide
Activity Using only the material you have read so far in this chapter, do you think that the actus reus of murder is present in the following cases? Give reasons for your opinions. Arnold and Bert are steeplejacks. High up on a factory chimney, Bert pulls out a gun, points it at Arnold, and says that he is going to kill him for having an affair with his wife. Arnold lunges at Bert to knock the gun from his hand, and in doing so causes Bert to fall backwards off the scaffolding to his death . Cheryl has agreed to look after her aged uncle Dennis. He is dependent on various prescription drugs, but Cheryl, tired of the responsibility towards him, deliberately fails to get them for him. As a result of this, he dies. Eric, during the course of an argument, stabs his pregnant girlfriend. She recovers, but gives birth to their child prematurely. As a result of the premature birth, the child dies shortly afterwards.
Objectives Identify the actus reus of murder Explain cases that illustrate the actus reus of murder Explain the rules and issues with respect to causation and murder