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Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank Homicide - Murder Mens Rea 1
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank Malice Aforethought (context) MA - Defined by Coke as the Mens Rea of murder Case law has extended/amended this definition as: No ‘malice’ (i.e. hatred or ill will required) - take mercy killings (Gray - where parent gives a fatal dose of drugs to terminally ill child. MR is borne out of love?) ‘Aforethought’ implies premeditation or prior thought is required. It is not – intent can be formed in a split second R v Maloney: MR is now an ‘intention to kill or cause GBH’ the lesser test is highly criticised but confirmed in: R v Vickers confirmed in R v Cunningham (note Lord Edmund-Davies comments for critique) 2
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank 3 Vickers, R v (1957) CA Murder – Implied Intention During D’s burglary of V’s (an old lady) shop, V discovered D whereupon D struck V with several blows by punching and kicking her in the head. V eventually died from shock due to general injuries. Held – Lord Goddard CJ ‘because he has killed a person with the necessary malice aforethought being implied from the fact that he intended to do grievous bodily harm... In other words the court held that an intention to inflict GBH resulting in the death of the victim was enough to imply the necessary intention or murder. D guilty of murder
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank MR of Murder Express and Implied Intent D has the MR of murder if he has malice aforethought: Interpreted in R v Maloney that murder requires intention and nothing less will suffice (i.e. recklessness) this will be satisfied in 1 of 2 ways: –EXPRESS (he intends to kill) OR –IMPLIED (he intends GBH) – R v Vickers confirmed in R v Cunningham Vital – murder is a Specific Intent crime. Q: What must you do in the exam? A: Obviously, If v dies and intended to kill = murder, but show that you realise that D can convicted if the jury felt sure that death (or serious bodily harm) was a virtual certainty – i.e. implied intent The key cases in this area is clearly Woolin, but note Matthews and Alleyne interpretation of this case (could be VERY crucial in the exam) Admittedly, this is a very complex and contradictory area of law. My advice would always be to prima facie assume murder so as to go on to consider partial defences of Diminished Responsibility and Loss of Control (CJA 2009) 4
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank 5 Recklessness Virtually certain Probability Moloney Woollin Natural Foresight Widens Narrows Risk Consequences
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank 6
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank Foresight of consequence Further considered in Mathew and Alleyne . Although this case has some technical difficulties it further supports the decisions in Nedrick and Woollin. 7
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank 8 R v Matthews and Alleyne (2003) Murder - intention – foresight of consequence The D’s threw V from a bridge into a river knowing he could not swim. They left the scene before he could reach safety and V drowned. The D’s argued on appeal that the direction given at their trial suggested that foresight of consequences was the same as intention. Held – The Court of Appeal regarded foresight of consequence being the same as intention to be more as a rule of evidence. A jury in such a case is entitled to find the existence of intention but does not necessarily have to. Despite what the Court of Appeal may have considered to be a technical misdirection it decided that it would not have made any difference to the jury’s decision. D’s convictions were upheld - guilty of murder
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank Conclusion The best way of expressing the present position is as follows: A person commits murder when he kills with the necessary intent. Intention for murder is nothing less than the intention to kill or cause some serious bodily harm. The defendant’s foresight of the consequences of his actions is no more than evidence from which the jury may infer intent. 9
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank Activity Using only the material you have read so far in this chapter, do you think that there is liability for murder present in the following cases? Give reasons for your opinions. Peter is in severe financial trouble. He places some bogus cargo in a freight plane, primed with a bomb and timed to explode in mid-air. In this way he hopes to claim insurance on the phoney goods. The plane is destroyed at 30,000 feet and all the crew are killed as a result. Quin interferes with the power steering of his girlfriend Rosie’s car with the intention of stopping her from meeting a secret lover. On leaving her drive, Rosie turns into the road but cannot avoid an approaching vehicle. The oncoming car crashes into her and she is killed immediately. Tracey a member of an extreme terrorist group enters a pub carrying a holdall containing a bomb. She shouts a warning and immediately runs out. Very shortly afterwards the bomb explodes killing three people who were unable to get out in time. 10
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank Answers Peter – Classic direction as originating in Hyam but confirmed ultimately in Woollin as this is a virtual certainty that the D would have a foresight of the consequences of his actions Quin – Not so clear this time. Would the steering constitute a virtual certainty as per Woollin? He does not have a direct intention and this would be a clear case of inference on behalf of the jury. Tracey – Direct intention to kill or cause really serious harm (Vickers) Mohan. The length of time on the warning would intimate a direct intent if the fuse was longer then would have to refer to Woollin again 11
Murder – Mens Rea Homicide © The Law Bank Objectives Define the mens rea of murder Explain the chronology of the law on oblique intent Apply the law on murder to a number of given scenarios. 12
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