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Published: Fri, 02 Feb 2018
For a person to be convicted of an offence
Assault, along with Battery are common law offences. When Charlie threw a stone at this ex-girlfriend, he intended to frighten her, this would class as an assault, and no contact is needed for an assault to occur, just for the immediate fear that something could or may happen. When Charlie picked up the stone and aimed to throw it at his ex-girlfriend, she may have been in fear that she would be subjected to unlawful violence. Logdon v DPP 1976 was a case where D showed a gun to V who was a customs officer, a gun that was a replica and would not fire, that he would hold her prisoner until any money that was owed to him was repaid, it was held that D was found guilty of assault and that V had feared force was about to be inflicted on her regardless of whether it had been or not. Following this case, Charlie could be charged with section 47, of The Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
The Offences Against The Person Act Section 47 states that ‘Whosoever shall be convicted of any assault occasioning actual bodily harm shall be liable… to imprisonment for five years.’ When Charlie threw the stone at his ex-girlfriend only intending to frighten her, it hit a shopper instead and caused her to be blinded in one eye. The Actus Reus is an assault or battery causing the infliction of violence or bodily harm.
Section 20 is malicious wounding and infliction of grievous bodily harm under The Offences Against The Person Act 1861, this state ‘Whosoever shall lawfully and maliciously wound or inflict any grievous bodily harm upon any other person, either with or without a weapon or instrument, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable’ The actus reus can be committed by inflicting either wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm. The mens rea is the intention to commit the harm that was already done or recklessness as to whether harm should or could occur. Charlie should have forseen the actions and consequences of throwing the stone, and how it could have affected his ex-girlfriend if it had not hit and blinded the shopper. R v Mandair 1994 was a case where D returned home angry and frustrated, he threw a container at his wife containing cleanser which contained acid, and this badly injured her face. It was held he was found guilty under section 20 of The Offences Against The Person Act 1861.
Battery is the actual infliction of force upon an individual. The Actus Reus for battery is the actual infliction of unlawful force. The Men’s Rea for battery is the intention or recklessness to unlawful physical force is inflicted upon another. It can be proved to whether Charlie has sufficient intention because he intended to frighten her, although he did not mean for it to hit her, he still had the nessacery Men’s Rea to scare her. He had sufficient actus reus as he would not have picked up the stone without intending to throw it, in these circumstances, Charlie did throw the stone causing injury to an innocent bystander, the shopper and blinding her.
When throwing the stone, Charlie did not intend for it to hit the shopper, or even his ex-girlfriend, just the intention to scare her. Although the outcome was not what he intended, he is liable and could be charged, this is called transferred malice. This is when it is transferred from the intended to someone else. R v Saunders 1573 is a case where D gave his wife an apple in which, he had poisoned with arsenic, the wife took a bite of the apple and then gave this to their daughter, the daughter ate the apple and died as a result. It was held that D was liable for murder of the daughter, his intention to kill his wife had been transferred to the daughter. Charlie did not intend for the stone to hit anyone, however it did, so the malice of it hitting the shopper instead still makes him liable.
Involuntary manslaughter is a form of killing without any intention or malice aforethought, this is the intent in unlawful killing to which it is affected. This will need to be proven when amounting to murder. When the policeman fired to stop Charlie, he only meant to wound him; he had no intent of causing death however he did have the intent to wound. R v Molony 1985 was a case where the D and his step father had been drinking on a wedding anniversary, when all of the guests had left they had two shotguns and cartridges and molony was the first to load, the stepfather had dared him to fire so, this was what malony did, and the the stepfather died. Malony argued that he did not aim the gun he only pulled the trigger and he did not intend to kill his stepfather. It was held that D was charged with murder, and then this was changed to manslaughter from a House of Lords decision. If this case were to be followed, the policeman would be liable for manslaughter as he fired the shot without intent to kill but intent to wound, but is this just a charge of negligence?
Gross Negligence Manslaughter is a form of involuntary manslaughter; the elements for this are the existence of a duty of care, breach of that duty causing death and gross negligence which the jury consider justifies criminal conviction. When the armed policeman witnessed the incident, he drew his pistol and shouted ‘stop or I fire’, Charlie did not hear this due to being hard of hearing. Because the policeman drew his pistol and he was a policeman, it could be argued he owed a duty of care to everyone in the current surroundings, as this was his job. By drawing out his pistol, it can be argued on whether he was intending to shoot Charlie or whether he was trying to scare him. When the policeman fired, he should have been more careful with his aim, it could be argued that he was being negligent as his intent was to only wound and not kill.
It is argued that when the policeman fired the shot, that he was only doing his job and did not mean to kill the shopper, the bullet was intended to wound Charlie because he was trying to resist an arrest, due to being hard of hearing. The shopper however was just an innocent bystander who took the consequences of others actions.
‘It could be argued that because the shopper died as a result of Charlie’s actions, he could be liable for murder, but there are a number of defences that he may be able to use to bring his plea to manslaughter instead. Charlie may be able to claim diminished responsibility, under S2(1) of the Homicide Act 1957, it states ‘Where a party kills or is party to killing of another, he shall not be convicted of murder if he was suffering from such abnormality of the mind (whether arising from a condition of arrested or retarded development of mind or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury) as substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the killing.’
As Charlie had been drinking, he may be able to plead diminished responsibility and claim that he had abnormality of the mind, however Charlie can not claim diminished responsibility because he was drunk , it must be proved that alcoholism is a factor and that the defendant may become reliant on this and they may develop chronic alcoholism. This depends on Charlie’s history of alcohol and how it has affected him, but this needs to be proved to plead diminished responsibility on sufficient grounds. R v Tandy 1989 was a case about D, who was an alcoholic, had drank nearly a whole bottle of vodka to themselves and then attempted to strangle their 11 year old daughter, It was held that because they were in control of their drinking, however just failed to stop, they were unable to plead diminished responsibility and was found guilty of murder. In R v Tandy 1989, D had a history of alcohol, where is does not state that Charlie does, this defence can only be used when the relevant standard of proof applies.
There are other defences available such as Provocation and suicide pacts, provocation is when loss of control and provoked must be proved. This is covered under section 3 of the Homicide Act 1957. Suicide Pacts are covered under section 4 of the Homicide Act 1957. None of these will apply to Charlie or his situation and the nature of his offences.
Pagett 1983 was a case about a defendant whom police officers were trying to arrest for a number of serious offences, he was hiding with his girlfriend of whom which was pregnant by him, in his first floor flat. D was armed with a shotgun and fired at the two police officers who then returned fire three bullets at D, D however used his girlfriends body to shield himself. The bullets from the police officers wounded his girlfriend and she died as a result. D found guilty and convicted of manslaughter, he later tried to appeal however this was dismissed.
Following the case of Pagett (1983), the policeman would have would not have been found guilty, however Charlie would be found guilty of manslaughter due to the fact Charlie was trying to avoid arrest and it was his fault the shopper was injured in the process.
There are a number of different courts, for cases to be heard in, however this depends on the case, whether it is civil or criminal. Civil matters are always private matters between two parties. Criminal matters are between the state and party. Smaller criminal matters such as criminal damage, assault and theft will be heard in the magistrate’s court. Crimes such as murder, manslaughter and grievous bodily harm would be heard in the crown court as they are more serious and may require more advanced knowledge from the judges. Any appeals that are made are heard in the court of appeal or the supreme court. In Charlie’s case, the crimes are serious offences, so it will be heard in the crown court.
Overall, Charlie is looking to be charged with manslaughter following the case of Pagett 1983, unless he can prove diminished responsibility and he has had a long term issue with alcohol, then he will be liable for manslaughter. Although his offences where more serious than he had intended, he is still liable for the nature of his actions and because the malice was transferred to someone else through both the policeman’s and Charlie’s actions they are both still aware of the nature of their actions and they have taken course allowing someone else to pay the ultimate price, with their life. I do not think that the policeman will be liable as he owed a duty of care to everyone in the surroundings, and it could be argued that this was breached when he fired and wrongfully hit the shopper but he also has a duty to protect from crime. This was merely his job, and although mistakes were made that should not have been, his actions can be viewed from both perspectives.
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