Murder

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