In R v Nedrick, the facts of the case were similar to Hyam except for petrol being substituted for paraffin. The most recent case at the time was Hyam, here Lord Lane approved of Lord Bridge's Golden rule but said the correct direction should be when the jury are satisfied that at the material time the defendant recognised that death or serious injury would be virtually certain. Despite this clear judgment there was still confusion amongst the judges. The case of Woollin, established that virtually certain is the correct phrase to be used when referring to intention.
The later cases of Re A and R v Matthews and Alleyne follow the judgment made in Woollin, A defendant's foresight of 'virtually certain' death does not automatically require the jury to find that he intended that result, it is merely evidence from which the jury may draw that conclusion. Foresight of intention is not the same as intention but may be used in conjunction with s. 8 of the Criminal Justice Act, evidence from which intention may be inferred by the jury. The issue of causation is applicable to all offences but the law on this area has developed as a result of murder cases.
In order to be found guilty or murder the prosecution must prove that the death was caused by the defendant's act. In the majority of cases this will be easy to establish for example, A shoots B and B dies immediately. However the situation gets complicated if there is more than one cause of death. A defendant can only be held responsible if their acts are both "factual" and a "legal" cause of the victim's death. Ultimately it is for the jury to decide. The defendant will only be criminally liable if his conduct was a factual cause of the victim's death and the conduct was significant.
The consequence would have happened 'but for' the defendant's conduct. In White, the defendant put cyanide in his mother's drink intending to kill her, however she dies of a heart attack before she could drink it, the defendant was found guilty of attempted murder. Legal causation is when a judge has to explain the legal principle to the jurors who then apply the law to the facts and decide whether the defendant has legally caused the victims death, The defendants conduct must be more than a 'minimal' cause of the consequence, however it need not be a substantial cause.
The defendant's conduct need not be the only cause, another act may have contributed to the consequence. The chain of causation can be broken by an intervening act (novus actus interveniens). The chain of causation can be broken by an act of a third party, the victim's own act or a natural but unpredictable event. In order to break the chain of causation so that the defendant is not responsible for the consequence, the intervening act must be sufficiently independent of the defendant's conduct and sufficiently serious.
Where the defendant's conduct causes foreseeable action by a third party, then the defendant is likely to be held to have caused the consequence this was shown in Pagett, when the defendant had used his pregnant girlfriend has a shield against the police, he shot at the police and when the policemen fired back the girl was killed. Medical treatment is unlikely to break the chain of causation unless it is so independent of the defendant's acts and in itself so potent in causing death that the defendant's acts are insignificant, this was shown in both Cheshire and Jordan.
In Jordan, the victim has been stabbed, he was admitted to hospital but died 8 days later, However it was found that the medical treatment had been 'palpably wrong' and the defendant was found not guilty. The defendant must take the victim as he finds him as in Blaue, where a Jehovah's Witness died because she refused a blood transfusion. Also switching off a life support machine does not break the chain of causation as in Malcherek.
If the defendant causes the victim to react in a foreseeable way, then any injury to the victim will have been caused by the defendant, this was shown in Roberts, when the victim jumped from a moving car to escape the sexual advances of the defendant. Finally if the victim's reaction is unreasonable, then this may break the chain of causation, like in Williams. The chain of causation does apply with Clive because even though he had not intended the death of David, the bomb he placed created the chain.
He could argue the hospital had been negligent when giving David the antibiotic and not realising David was allergic to it. Clive from the start would have known that there could be a chance that someone might die from the bomb, although he had taken all the safety procedures, he had indirect intent that something might happen. In terms of murder, Clive isn't necessary guilty because he didn't physically stab him or shoot David, However because there was confusion over the 'fifty/fifteen' minutes, he can't be entirely guilty for David's murder because he had told given the correct precaution.
Whether or not Clive would be convicted of murder is a question of fact for the jury in the light of the evidence having been directed as to the law by the judge and that a jury may or may not find that the required intention has been established. Clive could be found guilty for subjective recklessness because he realised that there was a risk of the type of forbidden consequence happening because of his behaviour but still decided to take that risk. A Jury on one hand would say that there was no unlawful act committed because Clive had taken all the necessary precautions and had informed the police beforehand of the secret password.
So any act on their part wouldn't hold him guilty, the hospital had shown negligence towards David and the police had made a mistake when thinking that Clive had said fifty instead of fifteen. On the other hand, a jury may find Clive guilty of subjective recklessness because he had the mens rea of intention, in the fact that he knew there could be a possibility that someone might die from his actions and even thought the hospital had been negligent on their part, he would not have happened in the first place if Clive had not planted the bomb.