The definition of murder


  •     “The unlawful killing of any reasonable creature in being, under the Queen’s peace, with malice aforethought, either express or implied” (Sir Edward Coke).


The Actus Reus of murder


  •      Any conduct that causes the death of a person under the Queen’s peace.

Acts or Omissions


  •     Any conduct that causes the result (act). For example, as seen in the case below the defendants omitted to feed their children.


Mens Rea of Murder


  •     It is not necessary for D’s mens rea to be ‘malicious’ or require aforethought. 
  •     No pre-planning is required.


The punishment for murder


  •     1(1) Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 – A person who is convicted of murder shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life.


Defence of Murder


  •     General defences are available for murder.


Partial Defences


  •     If one of the following is satisfied, D’s liability for murder will be downgraded to voluntary manslaughter:


1) Loss of self-control

2) Diminished responsibility

3) Suicide Pact


Relevant case law:


Gibbins & Proctor (1918) 4 WLUK 25


Cunningham [1982] AC 566


Hyam [1975] AC 55


R v Moloney [1985] 2 WLR 648


R v Hancock and Shankland [1986] AC 455


R v Nedrick [1986] 1 WLR 1025


R v Woollin [1999] 1 AC 82


Matthews and Alleyne [2003] EWCA Crim 192