Involuntary Manslaughter Summary

What is ‘involuntary manslaughter’?


  •      There are three main involuntary manslaughter offences:

1) Unlawful act manslaughter

2) Gross negligence manslaughter

3) Reckless manslaughter


Unlawful Act (Constructive) Manslaughter

  •      The prosecution must prove that D caused V’s death and that what he did was ‘objectively’ dangerous.

The elements of the offence:


  • An unlawful act (base offence)
  • The act is objectively dangerous
  • The act must cause death


Mens rea of unlawful act manslaughter


  •      It only needs to be established that D had the mens rea of the unlawful act committed.


Relevant case law:


Andrews v DPP [1937] AC 576


Lowe [1973] QB 702


Lamb [1967] 2 QB 981


R v Church [1965] 2 All ER 72


DPP v Newbury [1977] AC 500


Dawson [1985] 81 Cr App R 150


Watson [1989] 2 All ER 865


AG’s Reference (No3 of 1994) [1998] AC 245


Kennedy (No. 2) [2007] UKHL 38



Gross Negligence Manslaughter


The elements of the offence


  1. D owed V a duty of care
  2. D breached duty of care
  3. The breach of duty caused V’s death
  4. D was ‘grossly’ negligent


Relevant case law:


Adomako [1995] 1 AC 171


Gibbins and Proctor (1918) 13 Cr App R 134


Stone and Dobinson [1977] 2 All ER 341


R v Evans [2009] EWCA Crim 650


Bateman (1925) 19 Cr App R 8


Rose (Honey Maria) [2018] QB 328 (Westlaw)


Reckless Manslaughter

  • This is the last of the three common law involuntary manslaughter offences.
  • This is where the defendant (D) caused the victim’s (V’s) death as D was reckless as to causing death of grievous bodily harm (GBH).


Corporate Manslaughter

  • Corporate manslaughter is a criminal offence where a business or organisation has caused the death of a person.


The elements of the offence


  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • Causing death
  • Gross breach of duty