Originally posted on Mr Smith's Law Blog:
Murder is the most serious criminal offence someone can commit, and yet it is defined not by statute but by Coke’s Institutes – the words of a barrister some 250 years ago. Much of these words, like malice aforethought, are inaccurate and case law over the years has shown that the law on murder and voluntary manslaughter requires clarification.
The physical element of murder, the actus reus, simply requires the D to unlawfully kill another human being. Deceptively simple because complications, a lack of clarity & potentially a lack of justice arise because of issues over causation. The legal test for causation laid down by Chesire makes the chain of causation very difficult to break. Therefore a D could find himself a murderer simply by the misfortune of living near a poor performing hospital. Similarly a D could find himself a murderer simply because his victims had a particular…
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