The defendant knocked the victim unconscious after a fight. He believed that she was dead and threw her body into a river. Medical evidence revealed that the cause of death was drowning and she therefore had been alive when he threw her into the river. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter. He claimed that the jury was misdirected as to the relevance of his mistaken belief in the victim’s death when he threw her into the river.
The main issue in R v Church (Cyril David) (1966) 1 QB 59:
The defendant claimed that the jury was misdirected as to the relevance of his mistaken belief in the victim’s death when he threw her into the river.
Appeal dismissed. Misdirection was irrelevant. There was no miscarriage of justice in this case.
Edmund Davies LJ set the applicable test for constructive manslaughter:
“The conclusion of this Court is that an unlawful act causing the death of another cannot, simply because it is an unlawful act, render a manslaughter verdict inevitable. For such a verdict inexorably to follow, the unlawful act must be such as all sober and reasonable people would inevitably recognise must subject the other person to, at least, the risk of some harm resulting therefrom, albeit not serious harm.”