Lydia’s Criminal Liability Case Study Essay

As a result of Lydia’s actions, Danielle and Gemma have died. Therefore, the extent of Lydia’s criminal liability for their deaths must be explored. Lydia’s culpability for their Murders must be explored before lesser offences of manslaughter can be considered. The majority of law pertaining to Murder is found in the Common Law, rather than being defined in statutes like a great deal of criminal offences. Murder, as defined by Lord Coke, is when a man of “sound memory” at the age of “discretion”, “unlawfully” kills any “reasonable creature” in any “county of the realm”. Prerequisites for murder include that the act take place “under the queen’s peace” with “malice aforethought”.1 This means that the Defendant must not be legally insane, should…

Therefore, it is the job of the prosecution to then establish whether she also has the mens rea for her Victims’ murder. The mens rea for murder is the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm. There are two types of intention: direct intention and oblique intention. Direct intention as defined by James LJ in Mohan6 is the “decision” to bring about a “particular consequence” no matter whether the Defendant “desired that consequence or not”. In the words of R.A. Duff7 direct intent can be construed from the Defendant’s actions if the Defendant would consider himself a “failure” if the “relevant consequence” did not occur. Lydia stated that she had no “malice” whatsoever to Danielle or Gemma and only intended to scare Jasmine. By applying Mohan8 it is clear that Lydia did not make the decision to throw the law reports in order to kill Danielle and would not consider herself to have failed if her actions did not cause the death of Danielle. Therefore, Lydia did not display direct intent to kill Danielle and whether or not Lydia displayed oblique intent must be explored. The cases of R v Maloney9 and Hancock and Shankland10 provided some confusion on what degree of foresight was required for a jury to infer intention from a Defendant’s actions. In Nedrick11 it was established that the jury should ask how “probable” the consequences from the Defendant’s voluntary act were and if…

For Lydia to be culpable for constructive manslaughter it must be proven that she “intentionally did an act” that was “criminally unlawful”, “dangerous” and the act “caused the victim’s death”. These requirements are confirmed by the HL in DPP v Newbury13. This case involved two boys who pushed a paving stone off a railway bridge as a train was approaching. The stone came through the cab and killed a guard. The HL upheld the Defendants’ convictions of manslaughter as they had the mens rea for the act which was also unlawful and dangerous. Lord Salmon stated that for a conviction of constructive manslaughter proof of mens rea was required but the Defendant only had to have the intention to “do the acts which constitute the crime”. This means the Defendant must only have the mens rea for the unlawful act to be culpable for constructive manslaughter. Lydia satisfies this requirement as she had a clear intention to throw the law reports off the balcony and unlike the use of self-defence in Scarlett14 Lydia’s actions are clearly “criminally unlawful”. Also, Lydia’s actions satisfy the test set out in Church15 which deems an act “dangerous” if all “sober and reasonable” people recognise that the act would cause the other person to be subjected to the “risk of some harm”. The decision in R v JM and SM16…