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International Law

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Introduction

QUESTION A & B are two homosexuals who have lived together for a number of years. Also living with them is C, who, while aged 30 is mentally abnormal and has a mental age of 10. A and B have cared for C for 2 years since C's remaining parent, an old friend of theirs, died. C cannot look after himself very well and occasionally goes through periods of deep depression. One day, A thinking that C might learn how to bake a cake, shows C how to mix ingredients and use the gas oven. He then goes to the shops to buy some decorations "to surprise B". When A gets back he finds C lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. There is a strong smell of gas. A rushes out to a telephone box to ring B. Meanwhile B arrives home and from smelling the gas and seeing the state of C, thinks that C had committed suicide. Fearing for his legal safety he hides C in a cupboard where C suffocates to death. Advice A and B. SUGGESTED SOLUTION A & B are advised that the state acting under prerogative via the Crown Prosecution Service will seek to juxtapose their actions with the existing scope of the law. ...read more.

Middle

Here Lord Diplock submits that if B's actions are directly related to A's actus reus then the chain is not broken. Factually B's actions are congruently attributable to A's omission. Thus it is submitted that A is still legally and factually the cause of death. The prosecution will then wish to establish a conviction of murder. To do so they will need to prove an intention to kill or cause grevious bodily harm. This can be proven via a direct intent or an inferred intent. A direct intent follows the Moloney direction whereby A must forsee the probability of C's death or grevious bodily harm upon him to be little short of overwhelming. This intention must be concurrent with the actus reus thus is judged at the time of the omission, Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Using the Moloney direction as specified it is unlikely A would forsee the consequence on the standard required. Looking at inferred intention along the Nedrick / Wollin test it is argued that it to will not be able to be proven since it is unlikely A realized the consequence to be virtually certain (baring any unforeseen circumstances). Thus murder cannot be made out on A's account. ...read more.

Conclusion

Further there can be no intention for murder since B in believing C was dead cannot forsee the probablility of death / GBH to someone who has already died; much less on a standard of little short of overwhelming R v Moloney. Furthermore the implied intention found in the Nedrick / Woollin direction too will not stick since its improbable B would forsee virtually certainly that C would die. In the alternative a verdict of involuntary manslaughter will be sought. Here constructive manslaughter is most congruent to the facts. First there is an unlawful positive act in the act of placing C in the cupboard R v Larkin. It is unlawful being a crime under battery, R v Armstrong. This act is unlawfully dangerous since it risks asphuxia, R v Church. The objective standard this is satisfied. This act was the curse of the fatality as on the facts he suffocated. Following DPP v Newsbury it is submitted that B did intend the unlawful act of placing him in the cupboard. Thus constructive manslaughter is satisfied. It is submitted that there will be a verdict of manslaughter on a charge of homicide rendering a maximum life sentence. 1 ...read more.

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