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Homicide Notes

Law Notes > LAWS201 Criminal Law Notes

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1. Homicide? s 158 An 'operating and substantial cause' or just 'part of the history? ( Smith)
- Must 'take deceased as you find them' (Blaue); or
- Was deceased's conduct 'reasonably foreseeable'? (Tomars)
- Intervening cause? (McKinnon/Kennedy) ADD s 159 - 166 stuff here!

2. Culpable homicide? ss 160, 150A - 157 Unlawful act and/or omission (s 160(2)(a),(b),(c)) If omission, major departure from standard of care? (s 150A) Caused to do act causing death by threats or fear of violence, deception (s 160(2)(d))



3. What kind? ss 167, 168, 171

Infanticide - s 178

No offence Manslaughter (default) ss 171+ 170(3) except for infanticide (s 178)

Murder - s 167 Means to cause death (a) or injury known likely to cause death + reckless (b) Or does above and by accident kills another person (c) Unlawful object known likely to cause death (d) Means to cause grievous injury to facilitate s 168 crime.

Homicide S 158 Crimes Act Homicide is the killing of a human being by another, directly or indirectly, by any means whatsoever. Whose death?
"A living human being" - s 158 A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded in a living state from the body of its mother - s 159(1) No statutory definition of when life ceases - end of consciousness? Or heart beat + breathing too?
Whose kiling counts?
- By another [human being] (s 158) i.e. Not suicide.
- Liability of companies and public authorities
? R v Murray-Wright Ltd [1970] (CA)
? A corporation cannot be guilty of manslaughter as a principal, although two judges thought (obiter) 2ndary party liability could occur.
# Would need to find an employee whose gross negligence caused death and was in line with company policy.
- Animals
? Animals are excluded from liability - but one could kill 'indirectly' through an animal. Questions: What if (after being fully born alive) the child dies in consequence of something done to it before it is fully born?
S 159(2) - the killing of such a child is homicide if it dies in consequence of injuries received before, during or after birth. What if death is already imminent and inevitable?
S 164 Acceleration of death e.g. Euthanasia, simply speeding up the dying process. Homicide, not necessarily culpable (case law says may not be unlawful). What if death could have been prevented?
S 165 Causing death that might have been prevented Every one who causes the death of another kills that person, although death might have been prevented by resorting to proper means. What if the immediate cause of death is treatment of the injury?
S 166 Causing injury the treatment of which causes death Anyone who causes injury from which death results kills that person, although the immediate cause is medical treatment, im/proper, applied in good faith. Can homicide be committed by omission?
Yes - ss 160(2)(b), 162(4), 164, 166.


1. Need not be sole cause Need not be sole cause, most cases show this. Smith - stabbing + mistreatment Blaue - injury + decision not to get treatment Tomars - throwing bottles + decision to turn into traffic (+ negligent driver's behind?) Pagett - police firing + taking hostage

2. Must be substantial cause Yes must be, language used in Smith, adopted in McKinnon Several competing tests:

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